From brilliant pink lady katydids to devil-faced orchids, this year's list of new-to-science wonders proves Mother Nature is full of surprises.
Each year, an international committee of taxonomists for the International Institute for Species Exploration at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry selects 10 of the most notable species from among the approximately 18,000 new species named the previous year. Compiled since 2008, this year the list includes curiosities from India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, United States, Brazil, Colombia, Australia and Papua New Guinea.
"During the decade since our first Top 10 list, nearly 200,000 new species have been discovered and named. This would be nothing but good news were it not for the biodiversity crisis and the fact that we're losing species faster than we're discovering them," says ESF President Quentin Wheeler, who is founding director of the IISE. "The rate of extinction is 1,000 times faster than in prehistory. Unless we accelerate species exploration we risk never knowing millions of species or learning the amazing and useful things they can teach us."
And we can thank ourselves for the extraordinary loss of biodiversity.
"We are altering ecosystems, decimating biodiversity and polluting our waters," Wheeler says. "Of all the devastating implications of climate change, none is more dangerous than accelerating species extinction. We can engineer our way through many impacts of climate change but only hundreds of millions of years will repopulate the planet with biodiversity."
So in honor of all the plants and creatures out there, let’s celebrate the new kids we’re learning about and hope that with increasing awareness, we can help them stick around for a few hundred million years.
First up, the beautiful lady katydid pictured above:
1. Unexpected Katydid (Eulophophyllum kirki)This ravishing rosy new species was discovered, unexpectedly, in Borneo and is named for the photographer of the only known specimen, Peter Kirk. Striking in its use of color and mimicry to blend into the foliage, which happens to be pink with green veins, even the little katydid legs look like wee leaves. And while so often males of a species get all the fun colors – in this case it's the females who get the bells and whistles; males are standard katydid green.
Index: Unexpected Katydid | Sorting Hat Spider | Omnivorous Root Rat | Swimming Centipede | Freshwater Stingray | Bush Tomato | 414-legged Millipede | Dragon Ant | Endangered Orchid | Churro Marine Worm