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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid