The 11th annual Top 10 New Species list put together by the International Institute of Species Exploration reveals 10 of the most interesting never-before-seen organisms on the planet.
The recently discovered animals, plants, and microbes all come from different parts of the world and serve interesting ecological niches. One has even been extinct for millions of years.
For the past decade, researchers from the State University of New York have made a list to highlight the diversity of species on Earth in order to help researchers locate them before they go extinct. The new selections that made the list come from a wide pool of 18,000 some species uncovered last year.
The first is a single-celled protist known as Ancoracysta twista. Researchers found the odd creature living on brain coral in a tropical aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. As a result, nobody is sure where it lives in the wild.
In addition, the Atlantic forest tree from Brazil and the heterotrophic flower from Japan both made the top 10. The plants are incredibly unique as well as critically endangered. The tree grows and 130 feet tall and bears woolly fruit, while the flower grows 4 inches high and gets its nutrition from a fungus.
Scientists also added a humpbacked crustacean known an amphipod to the list, alongside Costa Rica’s baffling beetle — named for its ant-like appearance — and the newly discovered tapanuli orangutan. The great apes are particularly interesting because there are only 800 left in the wild.
In addition, the list took on the tadpole-like Swire’s snailfish, a special volcanic bacterium known as Thiolava Veneris, and the cave beetle Xuedytes Bellus. Finally, the team added the long-extinct marsupial lion Wakaleo Schouten, which lived in what is now Australia some 23 million years ago.
The new findings are not just interesting, they also highlight the importance of preservation. An estimated 20,000 species go extinct each year, and researchers hope drawing attention to certain organisms will lead to new policies to protect them.