An amazing glow-in-the-dark cockroach, a harp-shaped carnivorous sponge and the smallest vertebrate on Earth are just three of the newly discovered top 10 species selected by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. A global committee of taxonomists — scientists responsible for species exploration and classification — announced its list of top 10 species from 2012 today, May 23.
The top 10 new species list was announced May 23 by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. The 2013 list includes an amazing glow-in-the-dark cockroach, a harp-shaped carnivorous sponge, and the smallest vertebrate on Earth -- a tiny frog. It also includes a snail-eating false coral snake, flowering bushes, a green lacewing, a hangingfly fossil, a monkey with a blue-colored behind and human-like eyes, a tiny violet and a black staining fungus.
Credit: Composite: Jacob Sahertian
The announcement, now in its sixth year, coincides with the anniversary of the birth of Carolus Linnaeus — the 18th century Swedish botanist responsible for the modern system of scientific names and classifications.
Also slithering it way onto this year's top 10 is a snail-eating false coral snake, as well as flowering bushes from a disappearing forest in Madagascar, a green lacewing that was discovered through social media and hangingflies that perfectly mimicked ginkgo tree leaves 165 million years ago. Rounding out the list is a new monkey with a blue-colored behind and human-like eyes, a tiny violet and a black staining fungus that threatens rare Paleolithic cave paintings in France.
"We have identified only about two million of an estimated 10 to 12 million living species and that does not count most of the microbial world," said Quentin Wheeler, founding director of the International Institute for Species Exploration at ASU and author of "What on Earth? 100 of our Planet's Most Amazing New Species" (NY, Plume, 2013).
"For decades, we have averaged 18,000 species discoveries per year which seemed reasonable before the biodiversity crisis. Now, knowing that millions of species may not survive the 21st century, it is time to pick up the pace," Wheeler added.
"We are calling for a NASA-like mission to discover 10 million species in the next 50 years. This would lead to discovering countless options for a more sustainable future while securing evidence of the origins of the biosphere," Wheeler said.
"Selecting the final list of new species from a wide representation of life forms such as bacteria, fungi, plants and animals, is difficult. It requires finding an equilibrium between certain criteria and the special insights revealed by selection committee members," said Antonio Valdecasas, a biologist and research zoologist with Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, Spain. Valdecasas is the international selection committee chairman for the top 10 new species.
"We look for organisms with unexpected features or size and those found in rare or difficult to reach habitats. We also look for organisms that are especially significant to humans — those that play a certain role in human habitat or that are considered a close relative," Valdecasas added.
This year's top 10 come from Peru; NE Pacific Ocean, USA: California; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Panama; France; New Guinea; Madagascar; Ecuador; Malaysia; and China.Top 10 New Species, 2013
"At the same time we search the heavens for other earthlike planets, we should make it a high priority to explore the biodiversity on the most earthlike planet of them all: Earth," he added. "With more than eight out of every 10 living species awaiting discovery, I am shocked by our ignorance of our very own planet and in awe at the diversity, beauty and complexity of the biosphere and its inhabitants."
Describing the discoveriesLilliputian Violet
Why create a top 10 new species list?
Arizona State University's International Institute for Species Exploration announces the top 10 new species list each year as part of its public awareness campaign to bring attention to biodiversity and the field of taxonomy.
"Sustainable biodiversity means assuring the survival of as many and as diverse species as possible so that ecosystems are resilient to whatever stresses they face in the future. Scientists will need access to as much evidence of evolutionary history as possible," said the institute's Wheeler, who is also a professor in ASU's School of Life Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and in the School of Sustainability, as well as a senior sustainability scientist with the Global Institute of Sustainability.
"All of our hopes and dreams for conservation hinge upon saving millions of species that we cannot recognize and know nothing about," Wheeler added. "No investment makes more sense than completing a simple inventory to the establish baseline data that tells us what kinds of plants and animals exist and where. Until we know what species already exist, it is folly to expect we will make the right decisions to assure the best possible outcome for the pending biodiversity crisis."
Additionally, the announcement is made on or near May 23 to honor Linnaeus. Since he initiated the modern system for naming plants and animals, nearly two million species have been named, described and classified. Excluding unknown millions of microbes, scientists estimate there are between 10 and 12 million living species.
IISE International Selection Committee: Antonio G. Valdecasas, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, Spain, Committee Chair; Andrew Polaszek, Natural History Museum, England; Ellinor Michel, Natural History Museum, England; Marcelo Rodrigues de Carvalho, Universidade de São Paulo; Aharon Oren, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Mary Liz Jameson, Wichita State University, USA; Alan Paton, Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, England; James A. Macklin, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canada; John S. Noyes, Natural History Museum, England; Zhi-Qiang Zhang, Landcare Research, New Zealand; and Gideon Smith, South African National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa.
Nominations for the 2014 list — for species described in 2013 — may be made online at http://species.asu.edu/species-nomination. Previous top 10 lists are available at: http://species.asu.edu.Sources:
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