News / Science & Technology

Scientists List Top 10 New Species for 2011

The Louisiana Pancake fish, which resembles a walking bat, was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Louisiana Pancake fish, which resembles a walking bat, was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico.

Multimedia

Audio
Rosanne Skirble

The International Institute for Species Exploration has released its Top 10 List of New Species for 2011 and many on the list are already threatened or endangered. Institute head Quentin Wheeler says the new discoveries highlight how little scientists know about life on Earth.

The Institute’s planet-wide new species include an iron-oxide eating microbe that was discovered forming icicle-shaped “rusticles” on the legendary shipwreck, the Titanic. There’s also a two-meter-long fruit-eating lizard from the Philippines; a cricket that pollinates a rare orchid in the Mascarene Archipelago in the Indian Ocean; a jumping cockroach from South Africa and two very distinct fungi.  

“The mushroom that is bio-luminescent around the clock that showed up in the Atlantic coastal forests in Brazil," says Wheeler. "And certainly the mushroom that was fruiting under water is just a startling new biological discovery.”

Also on the list: a spider from Madagascar whose durable webs can span rivers, streams and lakes; a leech from Peru with gigantic teeth and a bottom-dwelling pancake fish in the Gulf of Mexico which resembles a walking bat.

Wheeler says the largest species on the list is an antelope that was first discovered being sold as bush meat in a West African market. “(That’s) kind of frightening because by all indications, it is a pretty rare species, otherwise it would have been described before now.”

Wheeler adds that he’s also alarmed that many of the newly described species are simultaneously threatened or endangered or occupy particular habitats around the world that are under stress.

About two million species have been named, described and classified since the early 18th century, when a system was devised to categorize all known varieties of plants and animals. But as many as 100 million more are waiting to be discovered, according to Wheeler, who believes knowing all the elements of the earth’s ecosystems is critical to our survival.

“Unless we know what species exist to begin with, we’re fairly powerless to detect and monitor changes in that biodiversity, even if they were increases, rather than decreases," he says. "We simply don’t know what is there to begin with.”

Wheeler says each species is a piece of Earth’s history so they must be documented.

“Evolution has been carrying on trial and error experiments for 3.8 billion years and has confronted many of the same problems that humanity is facing now," he says. "So if we simply learn species and learn how they have evolved in response to various challenges, we can just get incredible ideas for design and engineering and inspiration for other kinds of problem solving.”

Wheeler says on average scientists discover and describe between 15,000 and 20,000 new species a year, a process he wants to accelerate with new Internet-based-tools. He hopes the Top 10 New Species list helps to raise public awareness of the rich, diverse, planet we inhabit.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More