8 Newly Discovered Species

Look what we found

The yeti crab was discovered in 2006. (Ifremer/A. Fifis).

In all the time that humankind has been scientifically categorizing life, we've managed to get slightly fewer than 2 million species catalogued. About 46 new species were discovered every day in 2006, according to researchers at Arizona State University's International Institute for Species Exploration. Some scientists say that Earth could hold as many as 100 million different species, so we still have our work cut out for us.

Most new species are small invertebrates that would be overlooked by anyone other than a scientist; however, every now and then we stumble across a new monkey, large lizard or some other incredible animal that we've never seen before. Here are nine amazing newly discovered species. (Text: Shea Gunther)

Gorgon head starfish

David Shale/University of Aberdeem.

The gorgon head starfish, or the basket star, is a cousin to the starfish and is well named — its arms split off its body like alien tentacles. The gorgon head starfish was discovered by scientists from Scotland's University of Aberdeen while they were studying marine life along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It was caught a half mile down and eats plankton and shrimp.

Attenborough's pitcher plant

Wikimedia Commons.

Attenborough's Pitcher, which is known in scientific circles as Nepenthes attenboroughii, is a large plant endemic to the island of Palawan in the Philippines. It's another species that was discovered at the same time it was found to be critically endangered. The plant's name honors naturalist Sir David Attenborough. The football-sized bell at its base traps and digests insects and even small mammals, bringing to mind the giant carniverous plant Audrey from "Little Shop of Horrors."

Phobaeticus chani

Romulo A. Ceccon/Flickr.

The Phobaeticus chani stickbug (not pictured — that's a similar-looking relative at left) is on record as the world's longest insect — it can grow up to 22 inches long — and seems almost otherworldly. I pity the predator that has to pick this bug out from among the sticks, because this bug is a master of disguise. This stickbug was discovered in Borneo where only six specimens are known to exist because of the difficulty of studying them in their natural habitat high in the rain forest canopy. The Natural History Museum contains the longest Phobaeticus chani stickbug at 22 inches.

Blossom bat

robstephaustralia/Flickr.

You have to love any animal that feeds on "rainforest nectar." The blossom bat, or Syconycteris sp nov, was found in the Foja mountains on the Indonesian island of New Guinea by a scientific expedition funded by the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. It's been called the "hummingbird of the bat world" because it uses its long tongue to drink nectar from trees.

Psychedelic frogfish

Wikimedia Commons.

The psychedelic frogfish lives in the ocean near Bali and Indonesia and was discovered in 1999. It's a small creature, growing to just 6 inches long, and is unique among fish because of its flat face, which gives it the same depth perception as humans. The fish's skin, which is a swirling pattern of yellow, white and dark orange, is responsible for the first part of its name. The psychedelic frogfish's skin is also as unique to each fish as our fingerprints are to us. It's endemic to Ambon island and spends most of its time in shallow waters close to shore.

Scaly-eyed gecko

Dr. Paul Hamilton/Reptile & Amphibian Ecology International.

The scaly-eyed gecko is easily the smallest newly discovered species on our list and can comfortably perch atop a pencil eraser. This tiny gecko was found in the rain forests of Ecuador in a habitat that is quickly being destroyed by logging and farming. The mountainous hillside where these creatures live is known to be packed with undiscovered species, but wildlife is being threatened by encroaching development and climate change.

Pearl River map turtle

Wikimedia Commons.

The discovery of the Pearl River map turtle broke an 18-year stretch during which no new turtles were discovered in the U.S. Prior to this, the last new turtle was found in 1992. This turtle lives in the Pearl River, which defines the border between Louisiana and Mississippi, and was discovered by a team from the U.S. Geological Survey. It ranges in size between 6 and 11 inches and eats clams, fish and insects.

Sneezing monkey of Burma

A Photoshop reconstruction of the new snub-nosed monkey. (Thomas Geissmann).

The sneezing monkey of Burma is another member of the Newly Discovered, Already Endangered Club. Some experts estimate that only 300 are left in the wild in the Maw River region, their numbers declining due to hunting and habitat loss. Chinese traders have been active in the area, feeding the black market demand for monkeys and other rain forest wildlife. These monkeys are known to go into long sneezing fits when it rains because their upturned noses allow water to enter their sinuses. (Note: This is a Photoshopped reconstruction of the monkey at left.)