News in Nature

Unprecedented top-to-bottom survey reveals new species in Malaysian rainforest

Unprecedented top-to-bottom survey reveals new species in Malaysian rainforest

This fall, the California Academy of Sciences partnered with The Habitat Penang Hill and colleagues to conduct a top-to-bottom rainforest survey of biodiversity on Malaysia’s island state of Penang,.  Over the course of two weeks the international team of 117 scientists discovered several species previously unknown to science—including a new species of ghost scorpion, living just miles from a major metropolis.   From-the-field updates were broadcast digitally by JASON Learning to classrooms around the world and over 1,400 species observations were logged on the nature-tracking mobile app iNaturalist..    A new-to-science scorpion discovered on Penang Hill.  Photo: Phil Torres/bioGraphic

Citizen science discovery adventure in Borneo yields six new species of beetles

Citizen science discovery adventure in Borneo yields six new species of beetles

Citizen Science, Insects, New Species, Species Discovery December 7, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Taxon Expedition‘s first field course to the remote 30-kilometre-wide Maliau Basin in Malaysian Borneo, yielded six new species of leaf litter beetle.  Citizen scientists on the expedition discovered these species during a field exercise employing the method of ‘Winkler extraction’. Using this technique, dead leaves are collected from the rainforest floor before being sieved, so that hundreds of tiny soil-dwelling insects can be revealed.  The participants of the expedition named each of the new species.  The Taxon Expeditions concept involves ten days of lectures and workshops in a well-equipped field research centre, during which the citizen scientists are trained in basic field and lab.Read More

Galapagos finch seen becoming new species

Galapagos finch seen becoming new species

Birds, Evolution, New Species, News in Nature November 24, 2017 at 11:13 am

A population of finches on the Galapagos has been discovered in the process of becoming a new species. In 1981, researchers noticed the arrival of a male of a non-native species on a tiny Galapagos island called Daphne Major.  They noticed that this male, a large cactus finch, proceeded to mate with a female of one of the local species, a medium ground finch, producing fertile young. The researchers then followed the entire population of finches on a tiny Galapagos island called Daphne Major, for thirty-six years, and so were able to watch the speciation in progress. This new finch populationRead More

The tricky business of defining new species

The tricky business of defining new species

New Species, News in Nature November 22, 2017 at 10:55 am

What gives an animal — or any living organism — the uniqueness required to be classified as its own species? Scientists can’t agree.

BioBlitz finds new species of peacock spider

BioBlitz finds new species of peacock spider

Arachnids, Citizen Science, New Species November 22, 2017 at 10:27 am

While on a BioBlitz in the Murrah Flora Reserve on the NSW South Coast, citizen scientist Helen Ranson showed her colleague, Canberra’s renowned “spider man”, Stuart Harris a spider she’d just found.  Mr Harris immediately knew it was a new species.  

Jackson’s Climbing Salamander Rediscovered in Guatemala 42 Years After Last Sighting

Jackson’s Climbing Salamander Rediscovered in Guatemala 42 Years After Last Sighting

One of the “ten Most Wanted missing amphibian species in the world” has been rediscovered, in recently protected cloud forests of the Cuchumatanes mountains, Guatemala.  A guard at the Finca San Isidro Amphibian Reserve, Ramos León, discovered a juvenile Jackson’s climbing salamander—only the third individual ever seen—on the edge of the reserve while out on patrol this month. He sent a photo to Carlos Vasquez, curator of herpetology at USAC University in Guatemala, coordinator of the amphibian conservation program partnered with the Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), who confirmed that the species in the photo was, indeed, the Jackson’s climbing salamander. Jackson’sRead More

A new flower of the Shetland Islands, which has quickly evolved from an introduced species

A new flower of the Shetland Islands, which has quickly evolved from an introduced species

Evolution, New Species, Plants October 24, 2017 at 10:21 am

The beautiful yellow, red-spotted flower is a polyploid, and derivative of a non polyploid species which was introduced into Scotland less than 200 years ago.  Its ancestor was a non-native species introduced to the British Isles, probably from Alaska.

Song experiments reveal many possible new tropical bird species

Song experiments reveal many possible new tropical bird species

Birds, Evolution, Science News, Species Discovery September 13, 2017 at 9:27 am

Researchers from the University of British Columbia and Cornell University compared two methods–analysis in the lab and experiments in the field–for 72 pairs of related but geographically separated bird populations in Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador.  The new study shows that pairs of birds that failed to recognize each other are currently categorized as members of the same species, suggesting that current taxonomy does not reflect actual bird behavior when it comes to song.  The researchers propose that 21 such pairs should be recognized as separate species based on song discrimination and that playback experiments should be the standard forRead More

Started as a hobby, photographer has documented the discovery of 56 new species

Started as a hobby, photographer has documented the discovery of 56 new species

For Robert Whyte, snapping a photo of an unusual spider has eventually led him to his dream job.

A fluorescent frog!

A fluorescent frog!

Amphibians, News in Nature March 18, 2017 at 9:46 am

Scientists believe they may have discovered a first in the animal kingdom – a fluorescent frog that emits a bright, colorful glow once exposed to ultraviolet light. The South American polka dot tree frog appeared as a common-looking frog to the researchers, but when they analyzed the amphibian closely, they discovered that when placed under an ultraviolet light it glows in a bright blue-green light.   Hyloin, molecules in the animals’ lymph tissue, skin and glandular secretions were responsible for the green fluorescence.  Hyloin appears to be a unique mechanism of fluorescence in animals.  

The Hermit Crab Caterpillar

The Hermit Crab Caterpillar

Citizen Science, Insects, New Species, Species Discovery January 25, 2017 at 12:45 pm

A caterpillar that was recently discovered in Peru exhibits a behavior previously unknown in caterpillars.  The critter was spotted by Dr. Joe Hanson, the creator and host of the YouTube channel “It’s OK to be Smart.” Hanson, along with entomologist Aaron Pomerantz and guide Pedro Lima, were filming in the Peruvian Amazon when they came across the creature. The caterpillar turned into a Cicinnus moth. Is this also a caterpillar carrying its own house?

With students’ help a tiny parasitic crab is discovered

With students’ help a tiny parasitic crab is discovered

Citizen Science, Crustaceans, New Species, Species Discovery January 24, 2017 at 5:31 pm

During a 2014 Solomon Islands expedition, students studying biodiversity placed a biocube on a portion of the reef off of Njari Island that contained a large chunk of dead coral. “The students extracted the cube, brought it back to the boat and took it apart,” explains Chris Meyer, Natural History Museum mollusk expert and a principal researcher with Biocube.

One of the rarest species on Earth

One of the rarest species on Earth

Plants, Species Update January 24, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Update re: the 2016 discovery of Melicope tree species in Hawaii (see story). Discoverers from the Botany Dept of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History say Melicope oppenheimeri “ranks among the rarest species on this planet”.  The tree is known today from only 3 wild specimens on an isolated cliff-base plateau in West Maui’s upper Waihe‘e Valley. Seven wild specimens first drew the attention of botanists in 1998. Four have since died.  

A new crab genus discovered by a US marine-turned citizen scientist

A new crab genus discovered by a US marine-turned citizen scientist

Celebrity Taxa, Citizen Science, Crustaceans, New Species January 24, 2017 at 2:14 pm

A US marine-turned citizen scientist is honored with the discovery of a new genus of crab, found in Guam.  The tiny crab’s name also refers to the Harry Potter character Professor Severus Snape. Photo: Jose C. E. Mendoza; CC-BY 4.0

A frog discovered with the help of citizen scientists

A frog discovered with the help of citizen scientists

Amphibians, Citizen Science, New Species December 26, 2016 at 6:25 pm

Working with amateur researchers scientists from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment have discovered a new species of frog, in the southwest coastal region of India.  The frog was first identified through its call, sounding very much like a kingfisher.  The frog belongs to a group known as “skittering frogs,” because of their habit of floating on water and skittering away when disturbed.  

A potentially new species of finch has co-evolved with Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine

A potentially new species of finch has co-evolved with Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine

Birds, Evolution, New Species November 10, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Genetic analysis shows that the South Hills crossbill coevolved with the Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine, a striking example of coevolution driving speciation within perhaps as little as 6000 years.  “This is maybe the best and only clear example of reciprocal adaptation between two species contributing directly to the process of speciation”.

New species of parasitic orchid discovered in Japan

New species of parasitic orchid discovered in Japan

Citizen Science, New Species, Plants, Species Discovery November 7, 2016 at 6:16 pm

Some plant species have abandoned photosynthesis, instead feeding off the roots of host fungi such as mushrooms and mould. These plants are called mycoheterotrophs. A Japanese photographer has discovered a new mycoheterotoph in the lowland laurel forests of Yakushima and named it Lecanorchis tabugawaensis.  Approximately 50 mycoheterotrophs species have been reported in Japan.

Land snail species seen for first time in 100 years, from photo posted to citizen science website

Land snail species seen for first time in 100 years, from photo posted to citizen science website

Citizen Science, Invertebrates, Lazarus Species July 7, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Scientists have rediscovered a snail species not seen for over a hundred years after spotting a picture of the species on a citizen science website inaturalist.com.   Though the snail is common on Hon Cau Island, it is so rarely visited due to national park restrictions and its distance from Con Son Island off the southeast coast of Vietnam, that no researcher had ever traveled there to document the local flora and fauna.  Fortunately, citizen scientists are documenting species and habitat in the most far reaching locales.

Natural History Museums Are Teeming With Undiscovered S…

Natural History Museums Are Teeming With Undiscovered S…

News in Nature, Species Discovery February 8, 2016 at 12:00 am

Main Report: The Atlantic | Category: General | Taxa: | Named for: Other reports:

Citizen Science Reveals Annual Bird Migrations Across Continents

Citizen Science Reveals Annual Bird Migrations Across Continents

Citizen Science, News in Nature January 21, 2016 at 9:55 am

Data-driven animation shows routes for 118 species For the first time, scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithologyhave documented migratory movements of bird populations spanning the entire year for 118 species throughout the Western Hemisphere. The study finds broad similarity in the routes used by specific groups of species — vividly demonstrated by animated maps showing patterns of movement across the annual cycle.