Famous Animals You Didn’t Know We Just Discovered

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Introduction

While scientists lament the destruction of habitats and the extinction of many species, barely a day goes by where new species are not being discovered: often these are almost indistinguishable from others in its family group but sometimes they are so different that we do not know how we hadn’t noticed before. The following species have been discovered in 2013 and 2014, or are extinct species for which we have only just discovered remains

1. Andrill Anemone

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One of the most curious discoveries of 2013 is this tiny anemone which inhabits the ice shelves of the Antarctic. It was found by the ANDRILL Geological Survey Team and so was named after the group. Less than one inch in length, they bury their bodies in ice and dangle their tendrils into the freezing water below. It is the first species of anemone to live in ice and nobody is quite sure how it manages to survive the bitter cold. They can often be seen in large numbers hanging beneath the surface

2. New Unnamed Titanosaur

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Still unnamed, the new Titanosaur was discovered in Argentina in May 2014. Based on measurements of the bones, it has been estimated that the giant sauropod was 40m long and 20m tall. It is also estimated to weigh seven metric tonnes heavier than the previous record holder ‘ the Argentinosaurus ‘ which palaeontologists had previously believed to the be the largest creature ever to have walked the Earth, when it was discovered in 1987. This new discovery has been dated to around 95 million years old

Did You Know?

3. Nose-Dwelling Tick

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Ticks are pretty ubiquitous in temperate and tropical climates. They are nasty parasites that bury themselves in the bodies of other creatures and feed off their blood. Some carry Lyme’s Disease which is an unpleasant condition for humans. One University of Wisconsin lecturer named Tony Goldberg was surprised to find one up his nose on returning from a trip to Uganda. He removed it and sent it to a lab for analysis. Surprisingly, they could not identify it as any known species and are examining it for record as a new species

4. Olinguito

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Described as ‘a cross between a slinky cat and a wide-eyed teddy bear’, this made global headlines in 2014 following its discovery in 2013, and the revelation of being the first new land-dwelling carnivore for nearly four decades. It lives in the Andes Mountains of Columbia and Ecuador and is distinct from other olingos, mostly for being smaller and stockier. Amusingly, they have appeared in zoos around the world labelled as something else, and the zookeepers did not realise that they had a completely different species when failing to understand why they would not mate

5. Tinkerbell Fairyfly

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Discovered in early 2013, this curious microscopic fly is actually a type of wasp. It has baffled and delighted experts in equal measure since it has challenged many assumptions made about wasps and other known fairyflies, particularly complexity and insect mass. It was discovered in Costa Rica and measures at ‘ wait for it ‘ 25 micrometres long (one quarter of a single millimetre) making it one of the smallest insects ever discovered. They feed off of the eggs of other insects and are used for pest control

6. Skeleton Shrimp

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Looking like something out of a 1950s science fiction B-Movie, the creepy looking skeleton shrimp was discovered in a cave on an island off the coast of California. The male is 1/8 of one inch and the female is 1/10 of one inch long. There are already a number in their class but this new species discovered in 2013 is the smallest of its kind and has been identified as a separate species. Despite their name (and physical appearance), they are not actually shrimp ‘ but are amphipods

7. Cocoa Frog

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Frogs come in many colours: green, yellow, black with bright coloured markings to denote them as venomous, red’¦ and now chocolate. Recently identified as a sub-species of the Hypsiboas, its striking chocolate brown colour is matched by its unusual black feet and disc-like toes. Its entire colouring is dark, including its black and brown eyes. It is a tree frog and the discs are used to climb. It was discovered, along with a number of other frog species, in an untouched area of Suriname

8. Walking Bamboo Shark

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Sharks are largely divided into two broad groups ‘ ‘swimmers’ which cover most identifiable species such as the Great White, the Hammerhead, Tiger Shark etc and ‘bottom feeders’ which lie concealed in or on the bed, feeding there and waiting for prey to come along. Nevertheless, this latter group do swim. Imagine the surprise of the oceanography community to discover that one subspecies of Bamboo Shark has learnt to move along the sea bed by wriggling its body to allow the fins to walk.

9. Speleonectes tulumensis

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Remipedes are a type of blind aquatic crustacean that was discovered in 1981. Until then they were believed to be extinct but over the last 30+ years, some 70,000 species have been found. Not one has been known as venomous ‘ until 2013 ‘ when this particular type was revealed as the first of its kind. Not only is it the first venomous remipede, it is also the world’s first ever known venomous crustacean which was pretty ground-breaking

10. Cape Melville Leaf-Tailed Gecko

Cape Melville leaf-tailed gecko found in northern Queensland

Found in a small part of Cape Melville, Australia, this gecko has interesting mottled colouring far more suited to rainforests than the rocky mountain temperate climate that it inhabits. The leaf shaped nature of its tail also seems to lend credence to the general theory that it is a relic species hanging over from a warmer and wetter time of Australasia’s geological history

Conclusion

This is just a tiny selection of a large number of creatures identified in 2013 and 2014; it is said that scientists discover in the region of 40 new species every day. Some of them are curious discoveries and some are ground-breaking more for scientists than for the general population. As each discovery comes to light, it opens up our world just a little bit more. Who knows what the rest of 2014 and beyond will bring?

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