Before ringing in the new year, we would like to celebrate the species discovered in 2018. Each year brings new findings that expand the Encyclopedia of Life. Of the 1.74 million species that are on earth today, here are a few that became known to man in 2018.
This amphipod, who’s name you might recognize, was named after Quasimodo, the main character in Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. The genus Epimeria is abundant in the Southern Ocean, south of the Polar Front and is known for its bright colors. In a 2007 publication about the genus Epimeria, it was thought that most species were already known. However, in a more recent investigation, the Epimeria quasimodo was discovered to be a new species!
Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo – Dendrolagus mayri
The rare Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo was last recorded in 1928 by Ernest Mayr and was thought to have gone extinct since then. It was recently spotted and photographed in the remote montane forests of New Guinea by Michael Smith. These marsupials are tree dwellers and are related to the kangaroos and wallabies that inhabit the ground. Although very little is still known about this species, the rediscovery of the Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo provides a hopeful story, as many tree kangaroo species are declining in population from overhunting, logging, palm oil farming, and mining.
Learn more about the Wondiwoi Tree Kangaroo:
Genie’s Dogfish: Squalus clarkae
Named after the famed shark research pioneer and founder of Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida, Eugenie Clark, the Genie’s Dogfish is a member of Squalus, a genus of dogfish. These deep-water dogfish are found in the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic Ocean. Although this species was previously considered part of the Squalus mitsukurii species complex, recent genetic analysis done by Dr. Pfleger and his team classified the Genie’s Dogfish as a new species.
Learn more about the Genie’s Dogfish:
Found at St. Paul’s Rock, a harsh, isolated island off the coast of Brazil, the Tosanoides aphrodite measures between 5-8 cm in length. Males of this colorful species wear alternating pink and yellow stripes, while females are a solid, blood-orange color. Named after Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, this newly found species may be one of the most vibrant ones discovered this year!
Learn more about the Tosanoides aphrodite:
Each year, thousands of species are discovered. Although this may appear like a large amount, it seems that we have only scratched the surface. Many scientists believe that we are entering a mass extinction caused by anthropogenic (human) influence, including pollution, habitat loss, deforestation, overexploitation, and more. It may become even more important to discover new species as the years progress, as new discoveries often help fund conservation organizations and attract media attention. Discovering new species also helps us better understand the surrounding ecosystem as well as previously documented species.
We hope that 2019 will be as fruitful in discoveries as the past year has been. Happy New Year from Conservation Made Simple!