2011 State of Observed Species Report Lists 19,232 Newly Discovered Species

New Species© International Institute for Species Exploration/Arizona State University

Still Finding New Cousins on the Branches of the Tree of Life

The 2011 State of Observed Species (pdf) has been released and there were 19,232 species newly known to science in 2009 (the latest year for which data is available - there's always a delay to confirm things). Not too surprisingly, most of these new species were insects. In fact, 9,738 of them were, representing just over 50% of the total. The second biggest group was composed of vascular plants (2,184/11.3%). Only 41 newly discovered species were of mammals, the class of animals to which most of my readers belong (I hope).

New Species© International Institute for Species Exploration/Arizona State University

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Some highlights from the report:

• Almost 24 percent of the new vascular plant species discovered in 2009 were in the monocot order Asparagales, which includes orchids, hyacinths, irises, daffodils, amaryllis, allium, aloe and, of course, asparagus.

• Year to year, the largest order of newly discovered insects is the beetles, and 2009 was no exception. Overall, 3,485 new beetle species (Coleoptera) were officially described including rove beetles (568), ground beetles (421), long-horned beetles (369), leaf beetles (356) and scarabs (288).

• Only 41 new living mammal species were officially described in 2009 and of those, 83 percent were either bats (44 percent) or rodents (39 percent).

• Almost 90 percent (133) of the new living amphibian species described in 2009 were frogs.

• There was almost five times more fossil bird species (34) newly described in 2009 than living birds (seven).

• Typical of most years, the largest number of new fish species was in the order Perciformes and 29 percent of those were in the families Gobiidaw (22) and Cichlidae (11). Gobies include some of the tiniest fish on Earth, and the cichlids include some of the most popular aquarium fish, including the angelfish and damselfish.

• Of the 626 newly described living crustacean species, 224 (31.8 percent) were in the order Decapoda, which includes crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns and shrimp.

• The Colubridae is the largest family of snakes and in 2009, almost 65 percent of the newly described living snakes were colubrids. In addition to 31 new snakes, new reptile species (living) included 38 lizards, 29 geckos, 12 iguanas, five chameleons and two turtles.

• More than 13 percent of the new fungus species (living) described in 2009 were gilled mushrooms in the order Agaricales (178). Of the mushrooms, more than one-fifth (21.3 percent) were in the family Marasmiaceae, which includes shiitake mushrooms.

In addition to the living species discovered during 2009, there were 1,905 fossil species, with insects and spiders accounting for 25.6 percent.

Also check out the Top 10 new species of 2011.


See also: How Can We Save More Seabirds? Foraging Pattern Analysis is Key

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