Arizona University unveils the top 10 species discovered in 2012

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

With the ubiquity of Google Maps and cheap international flights it often seems that we, as a species, know good old planet Earth like the back of our collective hands. Today’s list of the top new species from Arizona State University aims to show us just how much more we have left to discover.

This year’s list includes a frog which is less than half the size of a 5p coin, a monkey with uncannily human eyes, and a carnivorous deep sea sponge shaped like a harp.

"I don't know whether to be more astounded by the species discovered each year, or the depths of our ignorance about biodiversity of which we are a part,” said Quentin Wheeler, founding director of the International Institute of Species Exploration - the body responsible for collating the list.

Each year the Institute - a global committee of taxonomists - select their top 10 from over 140 nominated species. Nominations can be botanical, zoological or microbiological, but must have been named in the previous year.

This is the sixth edition of the list, with the date of its announcement – May 23 –chosen to coincide with the birthday of Carl Linnaeus, the 18 Swedish zoologist and botanist who is considered the father of modern taxonomy.

In a statement released by Arizona State University, home of the Institute, Wheeler explained the continuing need to shine a light on species discovery. "For decades, we have averaged 18,000 species discoveries per year which seemed reasonable before the biodiversity crisis. Now, knowing that millions of species may not survive the 21st century, it is time to pick up the pace."

"At the same time we search the heavens for other earth-like planets, we should make it a high priority to explore the biodiversity on the most earth-like planet of them all: Earth."

 

Top Ten New Species discovered in 2012:

Viola lilliputana 
Country: Peru

Named after Jonathan Swift’s race of 6-inch tall humans, this species of violet is one of the smallest in the world. Only known to be found in a single area in the plateaus of the Peruvian Andes, the Viola lilliputana is smaller even than Swift’s fictional Lilliputians, with the above-ground portion of the plant standing less than a centimetre tall.

Chondrocladia lyra 
Country: NE Pacific Ocean; USA: California

One of the oddest-looking of the year’s announcement, this deep-sea harp-sponge use tiny Velcro-like hooks on its vertical ‘strings’ to snare plankton, before it coats them in a thin membrane and digests them. The sponge’s horizontal veins number between two and six, making the plant occasionally look like more of an upside-down chandelier. This unusual structure maximises its surface area, making for more frequent feedings. 

Cercopithecus lomamiensis 
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Described by researchers as shy and quiet, the lesula monkey certainly looks reserved, with its distinctly calm, almost human-looking eyes. Discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the lesula is an Old World monkey – which means it has a tail (as opposed to tail-less apes), but can’t use it (as the prehensile New World monkeys can). The lesula may look placid but is also known for its booming dawn chorus.

Sibon noalamina 
Country: Panama

The unusual name for this species derives from the Spanish phrase ‘No a la mina’, or ‘No to the mine’, referring to the harmful ore mining that is destroying the creature’s habitat in the Serranía de Tabasará mountain range. Apart from the snails and slugs it hunts at night, the snake noalamina is harmless, mimicking the dark and light stripes of the venomous coral snake to scare off predators.

Ochroconis anomala 
Country: France

Found exclusively on the walls of Lascaux Cave in France, this black fungus was inadvertently nurtured by human intervention. The caves - famous for their Paleolithic art thought to be 17,300 years old – were treated with chemicals to stop the paintings being destroyed by a fungal invasion. The original white fungus was eradicated, but from the destruction emerged this new species.

Paedophryne amanuensis 
Country: New Guinea

With an average size of only 7.7 millimeters across, this frog is the smallest living vertebrate – that is, an animal with a spine. Like other ultra-small frogs, the paedophyrne amanuensis makes it home in the carpet of fallen leaves found in tropical rainforests. Discovered in Papua New Guinea this new species can leap more than 30 times its body length.

Eugenia petrikensis 
Country: Madagascar

The rainforests of Madagascar are well known for harbouring some of the country’s unique and fascinating species. But in this case it seems that researchers couldn’t see the wood for the trees. The Eugenia petrikensis is a new species of shrub with magenta flowers and emerald green leaves, found only in the coastal forests and sandy soil of Madagascar’s eastern shoreline.

Lucihormetica luckae 
Country: Ecuador

Bioluminescence – the production of light by living organisms– is rare amongst terrestrial species, and in cockroaches it’s found in only a dozen or so species. Sporting two brightly glowing spots on its back, the lucihormetica luckae is one the few. The pattern is thought to warn off predators by imitating the appearance of a highly toxic beetle that is also luminescent. The luchiormetica itself is completely harmless.

Semachrysa jade 
Country: Malaysia

In a success for social media and science, this is the first species that has been discovered after its photo was shared on Flickr. The photographer, Hock Ping Guek, snapped the lacewing in a park near Kuala Lumpur, and uploaded it online where it was seen by Shaun Winterton, a Californian entomologist. After a specimen was collected the new species was confirmed by Stephen Brooks at the London Natural History Museum. Fittingly, the announcement was made via Google docs.

Juracimbrophlebia ginkgofolia 
Country: China

The species of hangingfly (so-called because they hang around underneath foliage to eat other insects) was a master mimic. Discovered in 165 million year-old fossils, the ginkgofolia was found among the leaves of the ginkgo tree that it resembled. The deception was so perfect that even as fossils the insect and plant are easily confused.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Accountant - London - £48,000 - 12 month FTC

£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power