Insect, plant, X-Phyla . . . what’s your favorite new species? Vote in our poll!
According to Nat Geo Kids, “SUNY [State University of New York] College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s International Institute for Species Exploration tries to draw attention to the issue of biodiversity loss and the importance of completing an inventory of all life on Earth by publishing an annual top ten list of new species discovered in the previous year. As you can see from the photos on this page, there are some species that have been hiding in plain sight!”
- Anzu wyliei: This dinosaur species made nests and sat on the eggs until they hatched. Among their bird-like features were feathers, hollow bones and a short snout with a parrot-like beak. Although Anzu wyliei is nicknamed the “chicken from Hell,” at more than 10 feet (3.5 meters)in length, 5 feet (1.5 meters) in height and 600 pounds (200-300 kilograms), this dinosaur was no chicken.
- Coral Plant: This parasitic plant’s elongated, branching, and rough-textured aboveground tubers give it a coral-like appearance. Parasitic plants do not contain chlorophyll and are incapable of photosynthesis, so they draw their nutrition from other living plants.
- Want to learn about other parasitic plants? Take a walk with the “white wonders” of California redwood groves.
- Cartwheeling Spider: This agile arachnid cartwheels its way out of danger. When predators comes calling, the spider runs and, about half the time, starts cartwheeling. But rather than attempting to cartwheel away, the spider propels itself toward the source of the threat, perhaps invoking the theory that the best defense is a good offense.
- X-Phyla: Dendrogramma enigmatica and a second new species, D. discoids, are multicellular animals that look like mushrooms, with a mouth at the end of the “stem” and a flattened disc at the other end. They may be related to jellies, but they also resemble fossils from Precambrian time, perhaps making them living fossils.
- My Shot photographers take the best photos of jellies! Do you think the weird new X-phyla are related?
- Bone-House Wasp: This insect has a unique way of protecting its offspring. First, the wasp constructs nests in hollow stems with several cells, each separated by soil walls. Then, the mother wasp kills and deposits one spider in each cell to provide nourishment for her developing young. Finally, she fills the final cell with the bodies of as many as 13 dead ants, whose toxic bodies create a chemical barrier to the nest.
- Wasps can be important pollinators. Learn more about plants, pollinators, and people with this video.
- Indonesian Frog: Unlike other frogs, Limnonectes larvaepartus gives birth to live tadpoles that are deposited in pools of water. One frog even gave birth to a tadpole in the hand of a scientist at the moment she was captured!
- Walking Stick: While this new stick insect is not the world’s longest, it belongs to a family known as giant sticks. At 9 inches (23 centimeters) in length, Phryganistria tamdaeoensis is compelling evidence that more big bugs remain to be discovered and our knowledge of these masters of camouflage is far from complete.
- Sea Slug: This beautiful sea slug is a “missing link” between sea slugs that feed on hydroids (tiny animals related to jellies) and those that mostly eat corals.
- Bromeliad: During Christmas celebrations in Mexico, elaborate altar scenes (nacimientos) are assembled by villagers. In some towns surrounded by forests, a local green-and-red bromeliad plant is frequently used in the display. The plant turned out to be new to science!
- Pufferfish: Scientists recently solved a 20-year-old mystery—and discovered a new fish. Intricate circles with geometric designs about 6 feet (2 meters) in diameter were as weird and unexplained as crop circles. They turn out to be the work of a new species of pufferfish, Torquigener albomaculosus. Males construct these circles as spawning nests by swimming and wriggling in the seafloor sand. The nests protect pufferfish eggs from turbulent waters and possibly predators.
International Institute for Species Exploration: Top 10 New Species for 2015
Nat Geo: Top 10 New Species for 2015 map
Nat Geo: Top 10 New Species for 2014