Of all living or extinct animal and plant species, discovered on the Earth in 2007, only ten have been selected for a Top 10 presented on the 23 May on the occasion of the anniversary of the birth of Carlos Linneo, initiator of the species classification and naming system. 2008 also marks the 250th anniversary of the start of animal identification.
In the photo, the ten species selected by the experts. From top to bottom: electric ray (Electrolux addisoni), remains of the duck-billed dinosaur (Gryposaurus monumentensis), pink millipede (Desmoxytes purpurosea), exotic frog (Philautus maia), venomous snake (Oxyuranus temporalis), fruit eating bat (styloctenium mindorensis), Xerocomus silwoodensis mushroom, “Malo kingi” jellyfish, rhinoceros beetle (Megaceras briansaltini) and the Michelin plant (Tecticornia bibenda).
In the list prepared each year by the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at the Arizona State University (USA), in first place is an electric ray, Electrolux addisoni, whose name reflects the “vigorous action of hoovering as a method of feeding”, according to experts. Discovered on the east coast of South Africa, this peculiar ray “could compete with the well-known function of the hoover for hoovering, in its case, the ocean floor”.
The list also includes a duck-billed dinosaur, Gryposaurus monumentensis, which dates back around 75 million years and was discovered in the southeast corner of the US state of Utah by a team from the Alf Museum of Palaeontology (California). In the plant kingdom, scientists have included a plant similar in appearance to the Michelin man, Tecticornia bibenda, a “tasty” plant from Western Australia.
In the art imitation category is “Dim”, the rhinoceros beetle, Megaceras briansaltini, which according to scientists looks like the character Dim from the Disney film “Bugs”. There is also a pink millipede, a strange frog, one of the most venomous snakes in the world, a bat that eats fruit, a mushroom and a jellyfish with the name of its victim “Malo Kingi”.
“The international committee of experts on taxonomy which has chosen the Top 10 from thousands of species discovered in 2007 aims to attract people's attention on biodiversity, taxonomy and the importance of natural history museums and botanic gardens in a fun way”, explained Quentin Wheeler, entomologist and director of the IISE.
Participating taxonomists took the opportunity of the announcement of the top 10 to issue an alert through an SOS Report on the state of species observed on the Earth. A total of 16,969 species were discovered and described in 2006, with an average of 50 species a day. Most of them are invertebrates and vascular plants which, in line with the SOS Report, are the result of work in recent years and partly reflect “our profound ignorance of many species that have the richest taxonomy on the planet”, declared the researchers.
According to the authors of the SOS Report, “there are many reasons why scientists explore species living on the Earth: to discover and document the results of the history of evolution, learn which species depend on ecosystems for surviving, establish a basic knowledge of species on the planet and their distribution for detecting colonisations of invading species or disease vectors, reporting on and allowing biological conservation and resource management”.
Limited knowledge of terrestrial species
“We are living in exciting times. A new generation of tools are appearing on the Internet that will make it possible to greatly accelerate the number of species discovered and described each year”, Wheeler indicated to SINC. “Most people do not realise how incomplete our knowledge is of terrestrial species, nor the level to which taxonomists are exploring biodiversity”.
Around 1.8 million species have been described since Linneo introduced modern systems for identifying plants and animals in the 18th century. Scientists estimate that there are between 2 and 100 million species on the planet, although many put this figure at around 10 million.
“We are surrounded by such an exuberant diversity of species that we too often take this for granted. Monitoring species around the world and their unique attributes are essential parts for understanding the history of life, since we are facing the challenge of living on a rapidly changing planet”, Wheeler asserted. For the taxonomist, it is still more important to discover species that live on our planet before those that might exist outside of it, although he admits that “the diversity of extraterrestrial life does appear to be more eye-catching”.
Composition of committee of experts
The International Committee of Experts was headed by Janine Caira, from the University of Connecticut. Nominations were prepared through the University of Arizona’s webpage by IISE personnel and committee members.
Caira’s committee was free to choose and develop its own criteria based on the unique attributes of the species and events that occurred during their identification. Committee members included the University of Kansas (USA), the Royal Botanic Gardens in England, the Natural History Museum in London and the Natural Science Museum in Madrid. There were in total almost 15 centres from different countries.
The SOS Report has been compiled by the IISE with the help of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, the International Plant Names Index and Thompson Scientific, publisher of Zoological Record.
SINC Team | alfa
Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering