Found by scientists conducting a gibbon survey in the mountains of Myanmar, Rhinopithecus strykeri, a snubnosed primate, is critically endangered. It sneezes when rain gets inside its snout, and can be found by waiting until the weather turns and listening for sneezes in the trees. Thomas Geissmann/Fauna & Flora International
It’s time once again to celebrate all the weird and wonderful creatures scientists have found on Earth in the past year. Arizona State University compiles an annual list of the top 10 new species found in the last 12 months, and shares the list on May 23, Carl Linnaeus’ birthday. The father of classification would no doubt be pleased with some of the names on this list — they include a mushroom named for a cartoon character, a worm named for the Devil and a jellyfish named “Oh Boy,” because that’s what people should exclaim when they behold it.
The list also includes a terrifyingly skull-looking sneezing monkey; a blue tarantula; a sausage-sized millipede; a night-blooming orchid; and much more.
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Some of the species are just plain odd, and others demonstrate how little we still know about this planet. Take the new nematode species Halicephalobus mephisto. It’s named for Faust’s demon Mephistopheles, because it lives in hellish, hot conditions in the bowels of the Earth. It was discovered in a mine in South Africa, and carbon dating suggests the worms have been living there between 3,000 and 12,000 years. The worm was a brilliant find for exobiology, because it proved that multi-celled organisms can subsist completely isolated from other complex ecosystems.
Then there are beauties like Pterinopelma sazimai, an iridescent blue hairy spider from Brazil. It’s so pretty you almost forget that it is a gigantic hairy spider.
I am particularly fond of Tamoya ohboya, a poisonous but pretty jellyfish that looks sort of like a kite with flowing, colorful tails. Citizen scientists were invited to submit names for the species and a teacher won with “ohboya,” assuming that people who see it or are stung would shout “Oh boy!”
Some strange flowers, a very large and a very small insect, and others round out the list. Check out our photo gallery for the full collection.