New Species

A new butterflyfish, named for Donald Rumsfeld’s notion of an “unknown unknown”

A new butterflyfish, named for Donald Rumsfeld’s notion of an “unknown unknown”

Species Discovery October 18, 2017 at 12:52 pm

A new butterflyfish is described from deep reefs in the Philippines.  The genus, Roa, with four described species, has as many described species.  The authors name the new fish to honor Donald Rumsfeld and his famous quote as it relates to the challenge in taxonomy in identifying new species.  Referring to the uncertainties of war, Rumsfeld states “there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t knowRead More

An orchid with large flowers that smells like champagne, and nine other new orchids from Magagascar

An orchid with large flowers that smells like champagne, and nine other new orchids from Magagascar

New Species, Plants October 18, 2017 at 11:54 am

A new species of orchid with enormous, highly scented flowers has been discovered in Madagascar. It was discovered by Austrian botanist Anton Sieder, who passed on his findings to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, who confirmed the plant, named Cynorkis christae, as being new to science.  Another nine new orchids have been discovered in the same area in the past two years, including Cynorkis aconitiflora a delicate, violet flowered species with blooms similar to Aconitum and Cynorkis elephantina, notable for its speckled flowers and flower stems.

A new species of slipper orchid

A new species of slipper orchid

New Species, Plants October 18, 2017 at 11:38 am

A new species of Paphiopedilum is described from Myanmar.

Review of a 500 year old field writing results in identification of new species of cobra

Review of a 500 year old field writing results in identification of new species of cobra

New Species, Reptiles, Species Discovery October 18, 2017 at 11:04 am

A cobra snake that was once thought to be an introduced species on Sao Tomé Island in the Gulf of Guinea, is actually a new species.   Herpetologist Luis Ceríaco of Villanova University in Pennsylvania, found a report detailing a visit to the island by a Portuguese explorer in 1506. In that report, the explorer described a black snake that was  “so venomous that when it bites a man, his eyes will explode out of the head and he will die.  Looking more closely into what was thought to be an introduced species, Ceríaco confirmed that cobra-preta, now named Naja peroescobari, is indeed aRead More

Five Colorful New Species of Sandperch

Five Colorful New Species of Sandperch

Fish, New Species September 29, 2017 at 8:53 am

The Parapercis sandperches are one of the most highly diverse groups of reef-associated fishes, with roughly 81 species having been recorded (and many more yet waiting scientific description). Now, we can add another five species to the list.  Two of the species fish were found in markets.

Stunning new reef fish found at market

Stunning new reef fish found at market

Fish, New Species, Species Discovery September 29, 2017 at 8:12 am

Sacura sanguinea is a newly described species of anthias with some of the most vibrant colors and dramatic patterning ever seen in a reef fish.  The holotype specimen was purchased from trawler fishermen at a market near the Adaman Sea in Thailand.

Giant, tree-dwelling rat discovered in Solomon Islands

Giant, tree-dwelling rat discovered in Solomon Islands

Mammals, New Species, Species Discovery September 28, 2017 at 2:39 pm

The Vangunu giant rat can weigh two pounds and reach lengths of 1.5 feet.  Mammalogist Tyrone Lavery first heard stories about ‘vika’, a giant, coconut-cracking, tree-dwelling rat from the Solomon Islands, in 2010.  But the elusive rodent may already be close to extinction.  After years of searching for the elusive animal, he has finally confirmed its existence, making it the first new rodent species to be described from the islands in more than 80 years.  The animal that Lavery studied was found leaving a tree that had been felled by a commercial logging company. It died from its injuries, but wasRead More

Brilliant new salamander from Colombian Andes cloud forest

Brilliant new salamander from Colombian Andes cloud forest

Amphibians, New Species September 28, 2017 at 10:33 am

The new species of salamander is described from Andean cloud forests on the western slope of Serranía de los Yariguíes in the Cordillera Oriental of Colombia, between 1385 and 1473 m elevation.  See also another recently described Bolitoglossa.   

Two new species of saw-browed diamond frogs from Madagascar

Two new species of saw-browed diamond frogs from Madagascar

Amphibians, New Species September 28, 2017 at 10:09 am

Known only from high elevations (1339–1407 m) in the forest of the Sorata Massif in northern Madagascar.   Three new species of saw-browed diamond frogs have been discovered in Madagascar in the past three years.   

Rediscovery of a lizard in Argentina after decades of searching

Rediscovery of a lizard in Argentina after decades of searching

Lazarus Species, Reptiles September 28, 2017 at 8:50 am

Liolaemus rabinoi, a species from Argentina has formerly been considered extinct. It was first found in 1972 on the margins of the El Nihuil dam in San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina. In November 2010, new specimens of lizards assignable to L. rabinoi were found in an area of large sand dunes, 10 km from where it had been searched for in vain for years.

An extraordinary cave animal found in Eastern Turkmenistan

An extraordinary cave animal found in Eastern Turkmenistan

Insects, New Species September 28, 2017 at 7:56 am

A remote cave in Eastern Turkmenistan was found to shelter a marvelous cave-adapted inhabitant that turned out to represent a species and genus new to science. This new troglodyte is the first of its order from Central Asia and the first strictly subterranean terrestrial creature recorded in the country.  The creature was found in Kaptarhana cave in the foothills of the Koytendag mountain range in the east of Turkmenistan, a distinctive desert landscape marked by ravines, plains, extraordinary rocky formations, sinkholes and the sixth largest cave system in the world. To find the animal, scientists spent 8 hours in the caveRead More

A space-based microbe, and now a medicinal plant named for Indian President

A space-based microbe, and now a medicinal plant named for Indian President

New Species, Plants September 13, 2017 at 9:52 am

Indian scientists scouting the foothills of Darjeeling have discovered a new plant species and they have lovingly named it after India’s ‘people’s president’ Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.  The shrub was found growing in the forests of Jaldapara and Buxa National Parks in West Bengal.  Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory had earlier named a new microbe Solibacillus kalamii in honour of Dr Kalam, which has been found only in space, on the International Space Station (story).

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

‘Extinct’ flower found near popular walking route in Derbyshire

‘Extinct’ flower found near popular walking route in Derbyshire

Lazarus Species, Plants September 12, 2017 at 9:33 am

A plant thought to be globally extinct has been rediscovered growing near a popular country walking route in Derbyshire, UK.  The  dandelion-like flower, the Leek-coloured hawkweed was discovered in Derbyshire in 1898 but not confirmed as a new species until 1942.  It disappeared from the area in the 1950s and died out at its only other site in Staffordshire some years ago.   There are more than 400 species of hawkweed in Britain.

New critically endangered tree species depends on unique habitat found only on Kaua’i

New critically endangered tree species depends on unique habitat found only on Kaua’i

New Species, Plants August 30, 2017 at 9:43 pm

The new Melicope species, 5 to 12 m tall, was first collected and documented as early as 1988.  (Melicope oppenheimeri, described in 2016, is one of the rarest tree species on earth).  94 individuals of the new species Melicope stonei, have been mapped by local botanists in regions featuring unique high canopy mesic forest.  Among the most striking characters of Melicope stonei are the ramiflorous inflorescences, meaning that the flowers spring directly from the branches below the leaves..

New species of crab with unusual outgrowths

New species of crab with unusual outgrowths

Crustaceans, New Species August 29, 2017 at 6:00 pm

A newly discovered crab species is covered in star-shaped tubercles. The crab species was found in red coral beds during a survey of a seamount by Peng-Chia-Yu Island, Taiwan. The crab species has also been found in the Philippines.

A second species of the snake genus Blythia

A second species of the snake genus Blythia

New Species, Reptiles August 28, 2017 at 2:22 pm

A second species of the genus Blythia is described, from Mizoram, India.

‘Yoda bat’ officially recognised as new species

‘Yoda bat’ officially recognised as new species

Mammals, New Species August 27, 2017 at 10:32 am

An unusual breed of fruit bat—previously nicknamed ‘Yoda’ due to its resemblance to the Star Wars Jedi Master—has now officially been registered as a new species and renamed the happy (Hamamas) tube-nosed fruit bat.  The widespread New Guinean species which is tentatively placed in the cyclotis group.  

A bioluminescent lanternshark

A bioluminescent lanternshark

Fish, New Species August 24, 2017 at 5:38 pm

The small, bioluminescent, long nosed shark was found nearly 1,000 feet below the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii’s northwestern islands.  First discovered 17 years ago, initial findings were published in February before the news was widely circulated by the corresponding researchers’ institutions this month.   See also other lanternsharks recently discovered.

A frog with a funny face

A frog with a funny face

Amphibians, New Species August 23, 2017 at 11:22 pm

Nasikabatrachus bhupathi is soiled-dwelling species of purple frog. It inhabits the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.  The discovery is significant as it constitutes additional evidence in favour of the theory of continental drift.  The Purple frog is an inhabitant of Seychelles, and the discovery of Bhupathy’s purple frog in India suggests that the Indian subcontinent was part of the ancient landmass of Gondwana before splitting from Seychelles 65 million years ago.