Obviously, we have known of the existence of orangutans for centuries. However, a new animal species within this family was discovered in 2017 known as the P. tapanuliensis. With so many Sumatran species dying off over the years, it was unknown if rumors of a newer orangutan species could occur. After careful genetic tests, field observations, and skeleton comparisons, the Pongo Tapanuliensis was found to indeed be another species entirely. Noted by its smaller head and flatter face compared to other orangutans from Sumatra and Borneo. While they might live in Sumatra, scientists feel they actually favor the Borneo Orangutans more.
Be ready to freak out if you see this thing crawling around. Why would someone name these things Pelican Spiders? Apparently, it is due to their extended, arching carapace and two extra-long mouthparts that create the illusion of a neck and beak. Scientists actually found 18 new species of pelican spider in 2018 with the Eriauchenius milajaneae being among them. Scientists assume that the appearance of these spiders allows them to better hunt other spiders, as that is the only thing they eat. Found in Madagascar, it is assumed they lived in the area for at least 180 million years.
One would assume that the barren islet in Brazil known as the St. Paul’s Rocks would not produce anything worth our time. However, that was before the discovery of the Aphrodite anthias. This small, 84-millimeter fish is incredibly beautiful with its incredible purple, yellow, and red coloring. Researchers who discovered this new animal species said they were so taken by its beauty that they did not see a large shark pass by them. One has to wonder if the two are working together, as Aphrodite could be the honey trap!
The Spectacled Flowerpecker species was first spotted in lowland forests on the Malaysian side of Borneo in 2009. However, a new animal species in this line was finally discovered a decade later. They managed to capture and examine a female of this new species, the Dicaeum dayakorum, to study. They found it was not closely related to any known flowerpecker species, making it very new. It feeds mostly on mistletoe berries like others, but anatomically it is quite different.
There are likely hundreds of Grouper fish, so finding a new animal species in this line needs to be highlighted as remarkable. Interestingly, this turned into quite a journey for Jeff Johnson, an ichthyologist with Australia’s Queensland Museum. To discover this fish, he had to somehow get it from a fish market before it could be purchased by someone for dinner that night. While he saw pictures of this grouper species before, he never could find a live specimen. In 2017, he managed to get a hit from a fisherman and spent two years tracking the fish species to a market in Brisbane. It paid off, as genetic testing proved it was a new species.
Any time one references a jumping spider, we instantly want to avoid it. This particular species of the Jumper Spider genus was found In Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat in India. Researcher Dhruv Prajapati actually managed to collect the spider specimen back in 2015 and then completed its identification by 2017. The official new species discovery announcement finally happened in 2019. He coined the spider with the scientific name of Marengo sachintendulkar. It is named after the legendary cricket player Sachin Tendulkar, who Prajapati is a huge fan of.
Dravidgecko lizards are relatively small lizards found only in the Western Ghats in India. While the first was discovered in 1875, it was thought to be alone as the sole version of its species still around. However, that all changed in 2019 when Herpetologist R. Chaitayna managed to find six new species of this lizard. Scientists believe that this lizard species first entered India around 58 million years ago via island-hopping when India was not yet attached to Asia like it is today. This is not abnormal, as various species were thought to island-hop when sea levels were lower.
It is always interesting to see a new Dragonfly species, as it is relatively rare. The new animal species known as Gynacantha vargasi was discovered in the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica in 2019. Almost 100 other species of dragonfly have been found in tropical and subtropical territories throughout the New World, Africa, Asia, and the Western Pacific. Thus, finding a new one is quite impressive. It was named after the Costa Rican naturalist, Ronald Vargas Castro.
The V. Wherley line of the praying mantis species breaks every known mantis rule. They actually seem to be mimicking a wasp, a first for the mantis species. It was discovered near the Amazon River in Peru and showed the same color, body structure, and even movement as a wasp. Yet when the discoverer Dr. David Svenson of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History examined it, he found that it had managed to mimick wasps as a way to avoid predators that would otherwise eat it. Considering its most common predators tend to avoid wasps.
Porcelain Crabs are usually beautiful creatures, but we knew they existed for years. However, a new animal species in this line was discovered in 2019 named the Polyonyx Socialis. It was found in the South China Sea of Vietnam, living symbiotically with other organisms. This included another porcelain crab. It was found within compact tube-like shelters built by a polychaete worm. Known as a false crab, the Polyonyx socialis species is vulnerable to environmental changes like climate change, as their existence is entirely reliant on their host’s safety. Which climate change is affecting.
Finding new animal species can be a lot of fun…until you find a new snake species. That can be a little creepy, especially when it’s a member of the pit viper family of snakes. Discovered in 2019, it was found in the western part of Arunachal Pradesh, India. This venomous green pit viper was named after Salazar Slytherin from the Harry Potter franchise. It seems to fit the snake from the Potter series well as it has a dark green head and yellow-green dorsal scales on the rest of its body. It is also sexually dichromatic where the males have reddish-orange and yellow-orange stripes along with a red-orange tail, which the females do not have.
A Narluga is a hybrid species that is a cross between a Beluga Whale and Narwhal. For years, many were certain the Narluga species existed but there was no proof of it. Around 33 years ago, scientists studied the DNA of a whale skull that had been kept by an Inuit hunter. The study revealed that this skull belonged to a hybrid of a beluga whale and a narwhal. It was grey, had beluga whale-like flippers, and a narwhal-like tail. However, this seemed to all be theorized with a lot missing. It would take more updated science to prove anything. By June of 2019 new advanced DNA evidence finally proved the skull belonged to a Narluga.
Like other mass species, finding any new version of primate that still exists today is incredibly difficult. However, it is a little easier when that species is critically endangered and therefore rarely seen. That seems to be the reason the Popa Langur species went undiscovered for so long. They are currently only found in Myanmar and were named after Mount Popa, where roughly 100 of them live today. However, only 200 to 250 remain in the wild right now. Thus, some zoos have considered bringing a few in for breeding programs to help restore the population.
This Iranian spider species was found in 2020, surprising everyone who saw it. This is a version of the Velvet Spider species, which are fascinating spiders just so you are aware. When the female Velvet Spider becomes a mother, she will actually birth a brood and liquify her own internal organs then upchuck them as food for her young. Once she gives literally everything inside of her up, the brood will then sense this and consume the mother entirely. In the case of this species, it was named after Joaquin Phoenix because its color pattern looks very similar to The Joker of DC Comics fame. Who Phoenix played in a recent film about the character.
The Heterometrus yaleensis was named after the Yala National Park, the most visited and second-largest national park in the nation of Sri Lanka. It also happens to be where this scorpion species was discovered. The team behind this discovery managed to discover six new scorpion species since starting their survey in 2015. They began their studies of the national park scorpions after a series of deaths caused by the Indian Red Scorpion, an invasive species in the area. It is very likely that interbreeding could occur to result in future new species here too.
This lungless salamander is native to North Carolina in the United States, only being found in the Sandhills region. They are known for their amazing coloration, as well as their size, the latter of which helps scientists differentiate the northern and southern versions. While this species was technically found in 1969, it was initially assumed to be just an unusual southern two-lined salamander. Yet it differed from others, but research simply hit a wall due to the lack of proper tech. Finally, updated DNA sequencing allowed the species to be fully described and examined the Carolina Sandhills Salamander to find it was indeed a new animal species.
A group of researchers set out to the Andean Cloud Forests within the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil in 2019 and 2020. They ended up finding 15 new wasp species there, all part of the Acrotaphus species line, all parasitic. In fact, the females use venom to paralyze a spider in its web to then put an egg inside of it. When hosting this egg, spiders no longer weave normal webs but rather build a web to protect this developing wasp. Once it hatches, the larvae eat the spider host and will live in the web until ready to come out.
Native to the Gulf of Mexico, Rice’s Whale is a species of baleen whale. It seemed to be nearly exact to the Bryde’s whale, but genetic testing in 2021 proved it was its own distinct species. The only way to tell the difference between the two in appearance is that Rice’s whale by the appearance of its nasal bones. They have wider gaps wrapped by frontal bones. It also has a unique vocal sound with its calls. This species can grow a little bigger than 41 feet in length and weigh up to 27 metric tons. Sadly, the species is currently on the brink of extinction, with only 33 known and only 16 mature individuals.
Australian researchers have known about the Bleating Tree Frog for a long time. It is well known to Aussies due to its incredibly loud calls, the loudest of any Australian frog known. It is often painful to listen to, being so loud and high-pitched. Originally, it was thought that the species was widespread across the continent/country from Queensland to Victoria. However, researchers in 2021 found that these frogs all over the place were not just part of one species, but three! While they look a lot alike, they are genetically different. Making them one of the newest animal species to Australia’s massive unique animal list.
In late 2021, a new animal species from the Star Octopus line was announced. For roughly 150 years, the common octopus found on Western Australian shores was not thought to be much different than the “gloomy” octopus. You’ve likely seen this octopus across the Eastern U.S. and even in New Zealand waters. But seven years of research managed to find that the two differ. Known as the Octopus djinda, it finally has its own name like it always should. Of course, it gets its name from the Noongar language. The “djinda” name means “bright” or “star” in English, resulting in the Star Octopus name.
This has to be one of the weirdest-looking animals we’ve ever seen. We’re actually kind of shocked it had not been discovered until so recently. In the Nimba Mountains of Guinea, there is a mountain range that connects Guinea, Liberia, and Côte d’Ivoire to form the “sky islands.” It is a major place for biodiversity, especially when it comes to bats. The Bat Conservation International, Cameroon’s University of Maroua, and the American Museum of Natural History teamed up to find a brand new bright orange bat they ended up naming Myotis nimbaensis. We’re a little shook by this one, people.
The Huallaga Valley in Peru was filled with amazing animal species, including many lizards. Sadly, it has been affected by war and forest destruction which drastically altered the environment and led to the departure of many species. Bu the late 1990s, Peru decided to liberate the area in hopes it could help. It seems that worked out, as a new lizard species known as Enyalioides feiruzae was found. Researchers spent seven years conducting field surveys of the area to properly describe it. The species is known for its amazing, almost rainbow-like colors. With males and females differing in their color patterns.
In the Monsoon Forests of China and northern Myanmar, there lives one of the newest animal species to the krait line of snakes. Chinese scientists managed to use genetic testing to determine that the Bungarus suzhenae, or Suzhen’s Krait, was a new species. It is named after the Bai Su Zhen snake goddess from the Chinese myth, the Legend of the White Snake. This is known to be a very dangerous, venomous snake. Thus, studying it proved to be quite a challenge for the team.
Normally when a species is named after a person, scientists use the “I” for males and the “AE” for females. Yet scientists broke from this trend when it came to the naming of the Strumigenys ayersthey ant. They decided to go with the inclusive “they” pronoun to promote nonbinary gender inclusivity. It is also named after the late human rights activist, Jeremy Ayers. This ant species is known of ant is known for snapping its jaws shut faster than most other creatures at 1.2 million mps2.
This frog is straight out of a horror movie. It was discovered when German Herpetologist Raffael Ernst heard a frog call from under the ground in the Amazon Rainforest. Rain was pouring down, it was muddy out, but he wanted to know where the call was coming from. He then managed to find what has now been referred to as the Zombie Frog. While orange and about 1.5 inches, it is not named due to being one of the “walking dead.” Rather, Ernst named it this because researchers often look like zombies when they dig out frogs from the ground.
Some of the newest animal species have already been discovered in 2022 thus far as of this writing. One is known as the Rose-veiled fairy wrasse. It is quite a “cutesy” sounding name for an animal species. However, one could likely come to the conclusion based on how it looks that the name works just fine. University of Sydney Doctoral Student, Yi-Kai Tea claims that this was thought to be a widespread species of fish before now. Yet it was just recently found that it differed enough to be genetically different. Tea stated that this is one of the reasons properly describing taxonomy in general for new species is important.
One version of the blanket octopus species was assumed to exist for twenty years now but is rare for people to see. That was until it was found by biologist Jacintha Shackelton on Lady Elliot Island in Australia in a rare sighting. At first, Shackleton assumed it was a juvenile fish with long fins but as they began to get closer it was confirmed to be a blanket octopus. Now proving this version of the species existed. The species’ name comes from the blankets that can be folded under the octopus’ arms to allow them to escape faster.
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