Scientists unveil top 10 newly discovered species

May 23rd, 2009 - 1:46 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 23 (ANI): A pea-sized seahorse, caffeine-free coffee and bacteria that live in hairspray were among the top 10 species discovered last year, a committee of scientists said.The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and an international committee of taxonomists - scientists responsible for species exploration and classification -announced the top 10 new species.

The other species on the list include the very tiny (a snake just a slither longer than 4 inches or 104 millimeters), the very long (an insect from Malaysia with an overall length of 22.3 inches or 56.7 centimeters) the very old (a fossilized specimen of the oldest known live-bearing vertebrate) and the very twisted (a snail whose shell twists around four axes).

Rounding out this year’s list are a palm that flowers itself to death, a ghost slug from Wales and a deep blue damselfish.

The taxonomists also are issuing an SOS - State of Observed Species - report card on human knowledge of Earth’s species. In it, they report that 18,516 species new to science were discovered and described in 2007.

The SOS report was compiled by ASU’s International Institute for Species Exploration in partnership with the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, International Plant Names Index, Zoological Record published by Thomson Reuters, and the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

Photos and other information on the top 10 and the SOS report are online at species.asu.edu.

Among this year’s top 10 picks is a tiny seahorse - Hippocampus satomiae - with a standard length of 0.54 inches (13.8 millimeters) and an approximate height of 0.45 inches (11.5 millimeters).

From the plant kingdom is a gigantic new species and genus of palm - Tahina spectablilis - with fewer than 100 individuals found only in a small area of northwestern Madagascar. The plant flowers itself to death, producing a huge, spectacular terminal inflorescence with countless flowers. After fruiting, the palm dies and collapses.

Also on the top 10 list is caffeine-free coffee from Cameroon. Coffea charrieriana is the first record of a caffeine-free species from Central Africa.

And, in the category of “spray on new species” is an extremophile bacteria that was discovered in hairspray by Japanese scientists.

Phobaeticus chani made the list as the world’s longest insect with a body length of 14 inches (36.6 centimeters) and overall length of 22.3 inches (56.7 centimeters). The Barbados Threadsnake - Leptotyphlops carlae - measuring 4.1 inches (104 millimeters) is believed to be the world’s smallest snake. It was discovered in St. Joseph Parish, Barbados.

The ghost slug - Selenochlamys ysbryda - was a surprising find in the well-collected and densely populated area of Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales.

A snail - Opisthostoma vermiculum - found in Malaysia, represents a unique morphological evolution, with a shell that twists around four axes.

The other two species on the top 10 list are fish - one found in deep-reef habitat off the coast of Ngemelis Island, Palau, and the other a fossilized specimen of the oldest known live-bearing vertebrate.

Chromis abyssus - a beautiful species of damselfish made it to the top 10 representing the first taxonomic act of 2008 and the first act registered in the newly launched taxonomic database Zoobank.

Also on the top 10 list is a fossilized specimen - Materpiscis attenboroughi - the oldent known vertebrate to be viviparous (live bearing).

“The international committee of taxon experts who made the selection of the top 10 from the thousands of species described in calendar year 2008 is helping draw attention to biodiversity, the field of taxonomy, and the importance of natural history museums and botanical gardens in a fun-filled way,” says Quentin Wheeler, an entomologist and director of the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University.

“Charting the species of the world and their unique attributes are essential parts of understanding the history of life. It is in our own self-interest as we face the challenges of living on a rapidly changing planet,” the expert added. (ANI)

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