It is easy to forget that new species are being discovered every day. Did you now that in the past year alone, hundreds of new plants and animals were discovered? Scientists and other biodiversity specialists from the California Academy of Sciences registered these 30 additions, along with almost 200 others, to Earth’s vast list of flora and fauna in 2018, after scouring obscure habitats over five continents and three oceans to seek them out.
The new discoveries may hold the key to groundbreaking innovations in science and technology, or they may simply be fascinating to look at. Only 10% of the world’s species have been discovered—imagine what they’ll find next.
Read on to learn about worker ants from Madagascar, sea slugs in Indonesia, and glowing ‘’lantern sharks.”
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Blakea echinata, a plant from the Caribbean rainforest of Panama, is distinguished by wide leaves with waxy surfaces and hair-like trichomes. This species has white trichomes that turn yellow-brown when dry.
These worker ants are found mainly in tropical forests, like the rainforests of Madagascar. The newly discovered arthropods have heads that are longer than they are wide, and look similar to members of their cousin species Camponotus tanosy.
These worker ants from Madagascar have a similar appearance to members of species Camponotus raina, but those belonging to Camponotus tanosy have five teeth. Their cranial nerve structure is also slightly different, lacking the plate of tissue seen in Camponotus tanosy.
A third species of ant from Madagascar, members of Carebara placida travel from rainforest to mountain forests at a height of 600 meters. They sport distinguishing 10-segmented antennae.
Chinja chinja spiders can be found in Tanzania’s Eastern Arc mountains. All members of this genus have a third tarsal claw, absence of claw tufts, and a calamistrum: the row of specialized leg bristles used to refine bands of silk.
Indonesia’s Chrysiptera uswanasi, or damselfish, is considered a micro-endemic species—their range is restricted to one very specific location. This characteristic makes them vulnerable to extinction. These fish are distinguished by their color pattern, and have a 9.3% difference in mitochondrial pattern from their nearest relative.
Doriprismatica balut is a sea slug from the Philippines, with a whitish-brown body and dark gray gills. These mollusks also have a mottled white foot.
Relative of the ninja shark, Marsha’s Lanternshark is known for its "intricate pattern, flank marking, and beautiful appearance.” These sharks also have tiny light organs along their bellies that produce bioluminescence.
This dwarf goby is found in the Western Pacific Ocean, named for the spotted pattern found on the male’s first dorsal fin. It differs from its nearest relative, Eviota punctulata, by pigmentation patterns on the fins.
This endangered flower from Brazil is identified by its sprawling habitat, the absence of trichomes (hairs) on vegetative and floral organs, and bright magenta petals.
This flowering plant from southeastern Madagascar is considered endangered. Its seedlings emerge up to four days after planting.
This moray eel is found in Indonesia as well as Australia. It’s distinguished by its color pattern and enlarged posterior nasal appendages.
This species of pygmy seahorse from Japan was named for its horse-shaped head. Seahorses are unique among fish in that they are monogamous, and mate for life.
This sea slug from Papua New Guinea is named "confetti” for the large yellow spots and smaller blue or black spots scattered across its body. It is also found in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Hong Kong.
Another species of sea slug, Hypselodoris iba is found in a range of color forms, usually violet or milky white. It has been confused in the past with Hypselodoris bullocki, but has been found recently to be merely similar, rather than a close relative.
Also previously confused with Hypselodoris bullocki, Hypselodoris melanesica are purple in color and found in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Their purple hue helps the sea slugs avoid predators.
These pink sea slugs are found in the Philippines. These strange beauties are among the 17 new species of sea slug to be discovered in 2018.
These regal-looking sea slugs are lavender in color, and sport a tall gill pocket that resembles a crown. They are found in Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, and Malaysia.
This endangered flowering plant from Colombia produces bright blue berries in its mature state. Its home in the Colombian Andes is threatened by flooding from a proposed hydroelectric dam.
This new species of tardigrade, or water bear, was discovered in 2018 in eastern Kansas, and named for young adventurer, philanthropist, and tardigrade-supporter, James Burgess.
These snake eels were discovered off Myanmar in the Indian Ocean. The species features a unique vertebral number, dorsal fin orientation, and tooth arrangement, and are dark brown in color.
Parmaturus nigripalatum are deep-sea filetail catsharks from Indonesia. Among other differences from its closest relative, it has a dark-colored mouth and a much lower tooth count than other Parmaturus species. They are the second Parmaturus species to be found in Indonesian waters.
This species of whiptail fish from Papua New Guinea lives in steep outer reef slopes below 60 meters. It can be differentiated from P. aureofasciatus and P. trivittatus by its larger eye and lack of enlarged canines in the lower jaw.
This is one of about 10,000 wasp species found in Australia. A third of the genus Pison is located in Australia.
The pygmy false catshark is named for its flat nose ("planus” meaning flat and "nasus” meaning nose). This deep-sea shark, the first such discovery since 2011, was found off the coast of India, north of Sri Lanka.
This species of perchlet resides in a coral ecosystem at Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the South Pacific. Its closest relative is Plectranthias winniensis.
This is a species of stream-dwelling frog from central Philippines. Many frogs of this genus are considered endangered.
This is one of two new species of spiders discovered on Hispaniola in 2018. The other species is S. caonabo.
This neon fish hails from the twilight zone of St. Paul’s Rocks, Brazil. It is pink and yellow in color, and is the only fish of its kind to be found in the Atlantic rather than the Pacific Ocean.
This pygmy goby from New Zealand has distinct blue coloring above its eye. It was named for Indonesian conservationist Meity Mongdong.