Top 10 new species for 2014

 
 
 
  • While we may feel like the world is growing ever smaller and less ideal for any form of natural life to thrive, it's encouraging and exciting to see that wonderful new species are being discovered on a yearly basis. Here are the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University’s top 10 new species for 2014 and where to find them.
  • Olinguito, Ecuador: Resembling a cross between a wide-eyed cat and an adorable teddy bear, the Olinguito is a brand new carnivore species discovered hiding in the trees of Las Máquinas in Ecuador’s Pichincha Province. Its apparent dependence on cloud forest habitat means deforestation is a threat. (ESF)
  • Kaweesak's Dragon Tree, Central Thailand: Standing 12m tall with soft, sword-shaped leaves with white edges and cream-colored flowers, it’s hard to believe that this magical tree went unnoticed for so long. Found in the limestone mountains of the Loei and Lop Buri Provinces in Thailand, the tree has been given prelim endangered status due to its small numbers (there are only about 2 500). (ESF)
  • Leaf-tailed gecko, Australia: Found in Queensland’s Cape Melville National Park, it’s not easy to spot this gecko at first glance. It has an extremely wide tail that is employed as part of its camouflage, which probably serves it quite well in its habitat, which includes rainforests and rocky outcrops. (ESF)
  • Domed land snail, Croatia: Found in the Jama-Trojama caves of western Croatia, these snails live in complete darkness some 900 meters below the earth’s surface. They have no eyes and their shell has no pigmentation, giving it a ghost-like appearance. (ESF)
  • ANDRILL Anemone, Antarctica: This tiny (it’s smaller than 2.5cm long) anemone species was found under the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica during research conducted by the Antarctic Geological Drilling Program (ANDRILL). It is not clear how the species withstands the harsh conditions in its habitat. (ESF)
  • Skeleton Shrimp, California, US: Shrimps are pretty small creatures as is, but this one has just broken the record for being the tiniest in the genus… and most transparent. The male's body measures just 3.3mm and the female is even smaller at 2.1mm and they were discovered in a small cave at Isthmus Reef, Santa Catalina Island. (ESF)
  • Tinkerbell Fairyfly, Costa Rica: It seems kind of wrong that such an ugly creature should have such a pretty name, but hey. Tinkerbella nana, named for Peter Pan's fairy sidekick, measures just 250 micrometers and is among the world’s smallest insects. It was found in La Selva, Costa Rica. (ESF)
  • Amoeboid Protist, Spain: This one-celled organism is four to five centimeters high, making it a giant in the world of single-celled creatures. Found in the Mediterranean Ocean, it gathers sponge-like material from its surroundings and ends up looking like a sea sponge and feeding like one too. (ESF)
  • Clean Room Microbes, Kennedy Space Centre: Okay, so this is a bit scary. Found in rooms where spacecraft are assembled, this microbial species could potentially contaminate other planets that the spacecraft visit. Independently collected from the floors of two separate clean rooms around 2 500 miles apart, one in Florida and one in French Guiana. (ESF)
  • Orange Penicillium, Tunisia: Distinguished by the bright orange color it displays when produced in colonies, this fungus was named as a tribute to the Dutch royal family, as it was found by researchers from the Netherlands. (ESF)