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Discoveries of New Species


Scientists can only estimate the number of species that share planet Earth with us and new species are discovered all the time. Some species, like Kiwa hirsuta—a furry crustacean found deep within the waters of the South Pacific—are so unique they seem alien. Others, like Neofelis diardi—a new species of clouded leopard—have been known to science for some time, but were simply classified as belonging to another species.

1. Ten New Species of Amphibians Discovered in Columbia

Photo © Marco Rada / Conservation Internal.
February 3, 2009. Ten new amphibian species have been discovered in Columbia. The discovery was made by a team of herpetologists from Conservation International, Colombia and ornithologists from the Ecotrópico Foundation. Their expedition was centered in Darien, a mountainous band of high and lowland rainforest that runs along the border of Columbia and Panama.

2. Hundreds of New Species Found in Australian Reefs

Photo © Gary Cranitch / Queensland Museum.
September 24, 2008. Over three hundred species of soft corals have been recorded by scientists studying the species diversity of coral reefs at various locations off Australia's coasts. As many as half of the soft corals found by the researchers are believed to be species not previously known to science. The research was conducted as part of the Census of Coral Reef Ecosystems (or CReefs) program, a global research project aimed at collecting species diversity data for coral reefs around the world.

3. New Species Discovered in Brazil's Cerrado Savanna

Photo © Paula H. Valdujo / Universidade de Sao Paulo, Pequi.
June 25, 2008. Scientists have discovered 14 new animal species in Brazil's Cerrado, a vast woodland-savanna ecoregion that stretches across more than 2 million square kilometers of the country's central plateau. The new species include eight fish, three reptiles, one mammal, one bird, and one amphibian. These new species add to a rich assortment of flora and fauna previously known to inhabit the region, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

4. New Hummingbird Discovered in Columbian Cloud Forests

Photos © Alex Cortes / Birdlife International.
May 14, 2007. A new species of hummingbird has been discovered in the montane cloud forests of south-west Colombian. The gorgeted puffleg (Eriocnemis isabellae) is named for its brilliant, bicolor throat patch (of iridescent blue and green feathers) and the white tufts of feathers above its legs. The bird was first sighted in 2005 by ornithologists Alexander Cortés-Diago and Luis Alfonso Ortega during a survey of the Serrania del Pinche region.

5. Scientists Declare New Species of Leopard

Clouded leopard.
Photo © Inhaus Creative / iStockphoto.
March 15, 2007. Scientists have discovered that the clouded leopards that prowl the islands of Sumatra and Borneo are very different to those that inhabit mainland southeast Asia. Recent genetic analysis shows that they are so different, in fact, that they should be classified as a separate species. The study revealed that the leopards of Sumatra and Borneo diverged from the mainland cats over one million years ago. Since then, they have developed dozens of genetic differences.

6. Large-Billed Reed-Warbler Rediscovered After 139-Year Absense

Photo © Philip Round / The Wetland Trust and Birdlife International.
March 8, 2007. A little brown bird in Thailand has a lot of ornithologists celebrating its rediscovery, 139 years after its original identification. In 1867, a single specimen of a Large-Billed Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus orinus) was collected in the Sutleg Valley near Rampoor, Himachal Pradesh, India. In many ways, this new reed-warbler resembled other better-known reed-warblers.

7. New Species Discovered in French Frigate Shoals

Photo © Joel Martin / NOAA.
December 5, 2006. On October 8, a group of researchers set sail from Honolulu aboard NOAA's research vessel the Oscar Elton Sette en route to French Frigate Shoals, the largest atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The crew included taxonomists, marine biologists, oceanographers, dive specialists, and photographers—all eager to document the species that team in the waters that surround the shoals.

8. New Species of Bird Discovered in Northeast India

Bugon Liocichla
Photo © Ramana Athreya / Birdlife International.
September 12, 2006. A new species of bird has been discovered in Northeast India—the first such discovery since 1948. The spectacular new bird, Bugun Liocichla, has an olive body, black cap, orange-yellow lore (the area between the upper bill and eye) and patches of yellow, crimson and white on its wings. The discovery was made by Ramana Athreya, an avid birder and professional astronomer who has been searching for the species ever since first sighting it over a decade ago at the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh, India.

9. Furry Crustacean Discovered in South Pacific

March 9, 2006. Marine biologists have discovered a new crustacean living near hydrothermal vents in deep waters 900 miles south of Easter Island. The organism, Kiwa hirsuta, is white and has a 'fur-like' covering (setae) on its pincers. The function of the 'furry' covering is not yet fully understood.

10. New Zealand Storm-Petrel Rediscovered

February 28, 2006. According to a recent press release by BirdLife International, the New Zealand Storm-petrel (Oceanites maorianus), not recorded for over 100 years and thought to be extinct, was recently rediscovered and photographed.
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