Many secrets lie hidden within our planet, from the highest mountain top to the deepest depths of the ocean floor. Humans have yet to discover everything that earth has to offer. Even today, with such great technological advances, many plant and animal species are lurking in the unknown. Experts believe that as much as 86% of plants and animals on land and 91% of those in the sea remain unidentified. Scientists 250-year old quest to discover all life is an ongoing process. This article takes a look at some of the most recently discovered species.
2016's Notable Newly Discovered Species
Of the 18,000 newly identified species on Earth, not all are minuscule and hard to spot which makes it incredible that humans have gone so long without noticing them. Their sizes range from giant turtles to tiny insects and everything in between. The International Institute for Species Exploration has chosen 10 of these as some of the most important discoveries of the previous year.
Eastern Santa Cruz tortoise
One of the new species is the Eastern Santa Cruz tortoise on the Galapagos Islands. Genetic data determined that 250 of the giant tortoises on the islands actually belonged to a different species. It can be found on other, smaller islands in the archipelago.
Another large species discovery is the Giant Sundew, a carnivorous plant in Brazil. Facebook aided in finding this plant when a posted picture proved it to be the largest ever found. The blind, building isopod was also discovered here. This bug, a relative of wood lice, is only 9 millimeters long and lives in caves. When the isopod sheds its exoskeleton, it constructs a round shelter for protection.
No longer living, yet nonetheless important in understanding the evolutionary process, is the Homo naledi. This is an ancient human relative with both ape and human-like characteristics that was found in South Africa. It is thought to be a link in the human evolutionary process.
In the Gulf of Mexico, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discovered the Little anglerfish. This is a tiny species, just 5 centimeters in length, that has a mouth full of teeth and a nose covered in bristle-like features.
The Ruby seadragon, from the western coast of Australia, also made the list. Similar in appearance to seahorses, this aquatic creature is bright red with pink stripes. Amazing that it has not been discovered until now, because it is almost a foot long (11.8 inches)!
From Peru comes the Featherwing beetle. This insect is not much bigger than a nail's head. Its scientific name, Phytotelmatrichis osopaddington, pays tribute to Paddington Bear, a beloved children’s character also from Peru. It lives in little pools of water that gather on plants.
In Spain, another important yet extinct species was discovered. This mammal is referred to as “Laia” the ape. Laia existed around 11.6 million years ago and weighed around 11 pounds. She was discovered in a landfill in Catalonia.
The Buzz-pollinated tree was found in Gabon, an African nation. Bees help to pollinate this species by creating vibrations with their wings. The vibrations then carry the pollen to other plants. Scientists are baffled by this discovery because it copies that seen in completely unrelated plants.
Umma GummaFinally on the list is the Damselfly which covers an extensive part of the African continent. This is one of 60 new dragonfly and damselfly species discovered in 2015. It displays a beautiful, iridescent color which influenced its scientific name. Discoverers named this insect Umma Gumma after a Pink Floyd album of the same moniker.
New Hopes and Challenges for Newly Discovered Species
In a world filled with discouraging news of climate change and species extinction, finding new species is promising. These species give us hope that the world’s biodiversity is perhaps not facing such a dire situation. As scientist continue to discover and categorize species, they will help us understand on a much deeper level how ecosystems interact and exist.
The Top New Species Discovered in 2016
|Rank||Newly Discovered Species||Location of Discovery|
|1||Eastern Santa Cruz tortoise||Galapagos|
|3||Unusual ancient human relative||South Africa|
|4||Blind, building isopod||Brazil|
|5||Little anglerfish||Gulf Of Mexico|
|6||Ruby seadragon||Off the coast of Western Australia.|
|8||Fossil remains of Laia' the ape||Spain|