Species Discovery

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

New species of wasp found by college student

New species of wasp found by college student

Insects, New Species, Species Discovery November 28, 2017 at 12:00 pm

University of Maine student Hillary Morin Peterson of Brunsiwck Maine discovered the tiny, non-stinging wasp while conducting work for her undergraduate honors thesis.  Peterson was able to attend a 2015 BioBlitz at Acadia National Park focuse don finding hymenoptra, and by the end of the event she had been offered an internship with The Smithsonian to continue her research.

New species of Spinifex tastes like ‘Salt and vinegar chips’.  7 other new species described.

New species of Spinifex tastes like ‘Salt and vinegar chips’. 7 other new species described.

New Species, Plants, Species Discovery November 27, 2017 at 10:23 am

West Australian researchers have found and identified eight new species of spinifex, including one they say has the flavour of salt and vinegar-flavoured chips.  “We were doing late night experiments … handling specimens of that species,” Dr Barrett said. “Someone licked their hand at some point and tasted that flavour.”  The native grass is farmed commercially in Queensland to manufacture the world’s strongest, thinnest condoms.  The Triodia genus includes about 120 species.

Biologists probably overestimate number of new species

Biologists probably overestimate number of new species

Species Discovery November 16, 2017 at 10:42 am

A recent University of Kansas study published in the peer-reviewed journal Molecular Ecology demonstrates the misuse and abuse of methods scientists commonly use to place boundaries between different species, especially so-called “cryptic” species, could lead to the overestimation of species diversity.

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

Accidental discovery finds a new hermit crab using live coral as its home

Accidental discovery finds a new hermit crab using live coral as its home

New Species, Species Discovery November 1, 2017 at 11:15 am

A new hermit crab species can live in a walking coral’s cavity in a symbiotic relationship, replacing the usual marine worm partner.  It is the only known hermit crab species to partner with a living coral.  The newly discovered crab was identified by accident, after finding a one inside a preserved walking coral.  Specimens of the new species were collected in the Oshima Strait of Japan at depths of 60-80 meters, and the species had been previously reported from a shallower bay in Japan at 30 meters.

Oregon Scientist Hunts For New Species In One Man’s Backyard

Oregon Scientist Hunts For New Species In One Man’s Backyard

Species Discovery October 23, 2017 at 9:41 am

You don’t have to delve into the densest rainforest or the deepest ocean trench to discover new species. Chris Marshall finds them in the most familiar places, like one man’s backyard.

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”

Celebrity Taxa, Species Discovery October 18, 2017 at 12:52 pm

A new butterflyfish is described from deep reefs in the Philippines.  Researchers for the California Academy of Sciences realized only muc later that the had a specimen of the same species in a jar, undiscovered, for years. The genus, Roa, with four described species, has as many undescribed 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;Read More

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

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

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

12 favorite sea slugs of the man who’s discovered more than 1000 of them

12 favorite sea slugs of the man who’s discovered more than 1000 of them

Invertebrates, New Species, Species Discovery July 12, 2017 at 10:04 am

“You can’t just accept discovering science as ‘enough,’ says California Academy of Sciences Curator of Invertebrate Zoology and Geology Terry Gosliner. “We have an obligation to explain its relevance. We need to find more ways to transfer scientific findings to the public so that we can positively impact public policy and conservation management – especially now, when the natural world is changing so rapidly.”

The Longnose Harlequin Frog, Rediscovered

The Longnose Harlequin Frog, Rediscovered

Lazarus Species, Species Discovery July 3, 2017 at 11:51 am

A miracle.  That’s how Ecuadorian herpetologist Dr. Luis Coloma describes his team’s rediscovery of a striking yellow-spotted frog, the Longnose Harlequin Frog, which had been lost to science since 1989 and feared extinct.  The Longnose Harlequin Frog suddenly and mysteriously vanished then, along with nearly a dozen other Ecuadorian amphibian species.

Scientist on honeymoon discovers first amphibious centipede

Scientist on honeymoon discovers first amphibious centipede

Myriapods, New Species, Species Discovery June 28, 2017 at 10:52 am

Entomologist George Beccaloni of the Natural History Museum in London first discovered the large, venemous centipede when he was on his honeymoon in Thailand. He was looking under rocks near a waterfall and was able to capture a specimen of this large creature.  When in the water, S. cataracta swam like an eel, with its many legs moving in a wave-like motion in order to propel the creature forward, which surely helps during hunting.

Three new species of chameleons, from Central Africa

Three new species of chameleons, from Central Africa

New Species, Reptiles, Species Discovery June 22, 2017 at 11:16 am

A team of herpetologists, led by Dr. Eli Greenbaum, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso, has discovered three new species of chameleons. The reptile trio, historically thought to be a single species, was found in different parts of the Albertine Rift in Central Africa.  The specimens were collected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 2009 and 2014.  There are 206 described species of chameleons. “As chronicled the forthcoming book by the paper’s author, in Eli Greenbaum, Ph.D, “Emerald Labyrinth: A Scientist’s Adventures in the Jungles of the Congo,” the coming years will almost certainlyRead More

New Species of Fijian Iguana

New Species of Fijian Iguana

New Species, Reptiles, Species Discovery June 7, 2017 at 3:35 pm

The new species of lizard, Brachylophus gau, is one of only four living species of South Pacific iguana, and is restricted to the island of Gau, Republic of Fiji.   The first known recording of iguanas on Gau Island dates back to an expedition in the mid-19th century. In 1854, the survey ship HMS Herald carried Scottish naturalist John MacGillivray to the Fiji islands, where he chronicled his encounters with native wildlife in his journal.  MacGillivray’s journal entries were used with live observations and museum specimens to confirm and describe the new species. The discovery of the new species of lizard —Read More

Orthochromis species yet-to-be-described from Africa documented in video

Fish, New Species, Species Discovery May 14, 2017 at 12:40 pm

Six potential new cichlid species, which have not yet been described are filmed and described by researcher ‎Hans van Heusden‎.   “This is a trailer of a movie how is realized out of four trips to Tanzania and Zambia where I visited and researched the beautiful Orthochromis habitats above but also underwater.In this movie, I show you six new Orthochromis species, which have not yet been described. Four out of six I discussed in detail and some of the described species as well. Furthermore, I found two new cichlid species in Zambia, one from the Luongo River and one from the KalungwishiRead More

DNA barcode analysis reveals a new species of butterfly, the first in Israel in 109 years.

DNA barcode analysis reveals a new species of butterfly, the first in Israel in 109 years.

Insects, New Species, Species Discovery May 8, 2017 at 9:20 am

This new species is named Acentria’s fritillary (Melitaea acentria) and was found flying right over the slopes of the popular Mount Hermon ski resort in northern Israel.  The species may be one of a handful of butterflies known to have arisen through hybridisation between two other species.