From insects to sea critters and reptiles to mammals, humans discover around 18,000 new species each year. Scientists study and classify these organisms, giving them each a scientific name according to their kingdom, phylum, class, order, suborder, family, genus and species (Learn about each of these here).
New findings can range from merely interesting to potentially life-saving. For instance, in February of this year researchers announced the discovery of a new bacteria that produces a very potent antibiotic against superbugs. Named Streptomyces formicae, the bacteria is found on African ants. In tests so far, it is effective against methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE), two bacteria the World Health Organization lists as high priority for research and development due to high rates of antibiotic resistance.
Not all discoveries have such exciting implications, but that doesn’t mean each isn’t fascinating in its own right. For this reason, the International Institute for Species Exploration annually picks out 10 for May list of the most intriguing.
Which made this year’s top 10?
From creepy to possibly tasty, this year’s most interesting cover a variety of plants and animals:
“Sorting Hat” Spider (Eriovixia gryffindori)
Located in India, this spider is less than a tenth of an inch long. It gets its name from its shape, which favors the Sorting Hat from the Harry Potter series. It mimics dry foliage to camouflage itself from predators and prey.
Unexpected Katydid (Eulophophyllum kirki)
This new species of katydid uses its leaf-like shape and beautiful color to blend into the foliage. It is about 1.5 inches long and was found in Danum Valley, East Malaysia.
Omnivorous Root Rat (Gracilimus radix)
Sulawesi Island in Indonesia is where this new species of rat makes its home. The root rat gets its name because it will sometimes feed on roots, meaning it is not a strict carnivore like its relatives.
414-legged Millipede (Illacme tobini)
Found in California’s Sequoia National Park’s Lange Cave, this 414-leg is about one inch in length. That may seem like a lot, but another species of millipede can have up to 750. When in danger, it secretes an unknown chemical for protection. Did we mention it has 4 modified legs to knock up the ladies? Yep, these legs transfer sperm.
“Dragon” Ant (Pheidole drogon)
Living in Papua New Guinea, this ant has spines on its back. Although researchers first thought it was purely a defense mechanism, they now believe it might play a role in anchoring muscles for their large heads.
Freshwater Stingray (Potamotrygon rex)
A new freshwater species found in Brazil, this stingray is only found in the Tocantins River. The specimen pictured is 43 inches long. Such brightly colored stingrays aren’t usually found in their area of the world.
Swimming Centipede (Scolopendra cataracta)
This species of centipede can be found in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. No other centipede has ever been observed diving and swimming like this one does.
Bush Tomato (Solanum ossicruentum)
The inside of this tomato turns blood red when cut. It is local to Austrailia, but it received its name from 7th-grade students in Pennsylvania.
Endangered Orchid (Telipogon diabolicus)
There’s something devilish about this flower. Found in Colombia, this unique orchid is labeled critically endangered, as its only known location is under threat from road construction.
“Churro” Marine Worm (Xenoturbella churro)
Called the Churro, the worm in this video sure doesn’t look tasty. Local to Mexico, the species is primitive, with a mouth but no anus. It’s about 4 inches long and is believed to feed on mollusks.
What are some more recent species discoveries?
Researchers and regular people are always stumbling upon new species of organisms. The best way to stay informed of future developments is to set up a Google alert. To catch up for now, check out just some of the discoveries revealed in June below!
- The Smithsoniam reports that a new species of Amazon parrot (Amazona gomezgarzai) has been discovered in the Yucatán.
- Scientists classified four new species of frog from India.
- For most people, squirrels are either cute or annoying. If you’re in cute category, check out this new type of flying squirrel.
- A research team from Qatar University found a new species of crab, Coleusia janani.
- Reptile lover? Take a look at these three chameleon species from Africa.
- Did a diver find a new species of stingfish in Indonesia?