New Genus: Relatives of Ancient Incan Pets

24 July, 2007
February 29, 2000
By Alex Kirby
environment correspondent
BBC News Online

Zoologists say they have made a “dramatic” discovery in the Peruvian Andes – a hitherto unknown genus of mammal.


The discovery of the animal, a tree rat the size of a domestic cat, was made by Dr Louise Emmons, a researcher with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

She found it while climbing in the Vilcabamba mountains near the ruins of the Inca city of Macchu Picchu, an area which had not been researched before.

Dr Emmons was about 700 metres up the mountain when she came across the rat, which had just been killed by an Andean weasel. Read the entire article at BBC News.

[Note: This discovery was probably made in the 1990s, but since it wasn’t made public until 2000, I’ve made the executive decision to include it here. I chose to do this mainly because there are several major discoveries made in the 1990s (ie: the Truong Son muntjac, the saola, the Laotian striped rabbit, and the Idaho Crossbill to name a few) which, by my own definition of this blog, can’t be included here. So, this one is a new millennium species, if only just..]

New Genus! Australian Truffles!

24 July, 2007
amarrendiaoleosamed.jpgJan 07, 2003
From original article at
CSIRO Australia

An Australian scientist has made a discovery which is electrifying world fungal biology – a new truffle genus related to the famous Amanita family, or fairy toadstools.

The Amanita family is famed worldwide for the red and white-spotted toadstools beloved of children’s fairy tales, the lethal Death Cap beloved of tabloid media, and a range of delicious edible fungi beloved of gourmets.

The find, by CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products mycologist Dr Neale Bougher, highlights Australia as one of the richest centers of truffle biodiversity on the planet.

Until Dr Bougher discovered the new fungus in the rejuvenating forest landscape of a former bauxite mine near Perth, WA, no one had ever found a truffle – or underground mushroom – related to Amanita.

“It’s not just a new species. It’s a whole new genus,” he explains. “Scientists have been looking for this round the world for well over a century – and here it is, in Australia.”

Since the original find by Dr Bougher, he and colleague Dr Teresa Lebel of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens, have identified no fewer than five new species of what has now been scientifically named Amarrendia – a marriage of the names Amanita and Torrendia, the two families of fungi most closely related to the discovery. Read entire article here.

Additional articles at:

The AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) website.

Environment News Service.

News in Science.

New Genus of Conifer in Vietnam

23 July, 2007
fir-2.jpgExcerpts from
UCSC’s Currents online:
January 14, 2002
By Tim Stephens

An unusual conifer found in a remote area of northern Vietnam has been identified as a genus and species previously unknown to science. The limestone ridges where the tree grows are among the most botanically rich areas in Vietnam and certainly harbor many other undescribed species, but they are outside the country’s protected reserves, said Daniel Harder, director of the UCSC Arboretum and a codiscoverer of the new species.


“For us to find a previously undescribed large tree like this indicates that there is probably a lot more to be discovered there,” Harder said. “It’s comparable to the recent discoveries of previously unknown large mammals in Southeast Asia, like the giant muntjac and the saola, a type of ox.”

UC Santa Cruz has the full article with more details and pics here.

Photo:Foliage and cones of the
golden Vietnamese cypress,
X. vietnamensis.

by D. K. Harder

New Species Are Hiding In Plain Sight

19 July, 2007

‘Cryptic species’ are look-alikes.
Two or more species that have no visible differences, but have different genetic makeup- different to the point that there is no crossbreeding between the species.

Cryptic species can come from completely different evolutionary and genetic sources, or they can originally come from the same genetic background, evolving on different lines until they are no longer the same species. In either case, they are genetically incompatible animals, but somehow they still look identical.

In other words- you can only tell them apart by doing genetic tests, or by watching very carefully to see if there are separate breeding groups. Considering this, it is understandable that many of the cryptic species are only now coming to light, and many more may never be found.

The recent rise in genetic profiling of animal species has led to the discovery of literally thousands of cryptic species – animals which previously had been assumed to be of one species have now been found to be genetically unique.

German researchers Markus Pfenninger and Klaus Schwenk noticed an “exponential growth of publications on cryptic species.” They saw the confusion and lack of information surrounding this growing issue, and they decided to do some calculations.

Up until now, it’s been believed that cryptic species were more commonly seen among insects and reptiles, and that they tended to evolve more frequently in the tropics. However, after defining more than 22,000 cases of cryptic species discovered in the past twenty-eight years, the two researchers determined that look-alike species are found in similar frequency regardless of the type of animal or region of the world.

The this information has implications for every aspect of the bological sciences. Biodiversity projects, envronmental conservation, pathological studies, and even human health care could be affected by cases of unnoticed species, or mistaken identities.
How many more could be out there, now that we know that they’re more widespread than anyone thought?

Find the full article (with graphs) by Markus Pfenninger and Klaus Schwenk at BioMed’s free online open access library. It will be available in PDF until the HTML version is prepared in a day or two.

Another New Phylum!

5 July, 2007
I just did a quick search and found this as well!

Discovery of undersea creature leads to new archaeal phylum
By Kate Dalke
May 9, 2002

A new microbe has been discovered in an undersea hydrothermal vent off the coast of Iceland. The creature, named Nanoarchaeum equitans, is a member of the Archaea, the domain of life that is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria. The microbe does not fit any existing taxonomic groups, so the researchers who discovered it have proposed a new archaeal phylum called Nanoarchaeota, which stands for ‘dwarf archaea.’


Perhaps not terribly impressive, but it IS a new PHYLUM!

Read the rest of this article at

New PHYLUM Discovered!

5 July, 2007

November 2, 2006.GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Genetic analysis of an obscure, worm-like creature retrieved from the depths of the North Atlantic has led to the discovery of a new phylum, a rare event in an era when most organisms have already been grouped into major evolutionary categories.


Scientists have long been puzzled by the half-inch-long creature known by its scientific name of Xenoturbella and first retrieved from the Baltic Sea more than 50 years ago. Early genetic research identified it as a type of mollusk. But then scientists discovered the mollusk-like DNA actually resulted not from the creature itself, but from its close association to clams and likely habit of eating mollusk eggs, Moroz said. The Xenoturbella does not seem to have a brain, gut or gonads, making it unique among living animals.

More precise genomic sequencing at the Whitney Lab – where Moroz and his collaborators identified about 1,300 genes including mitochondrial genes – helped to reveal a surprise: Xenoturbella belongs to its own phylum, a broad class of organisms lying just below kingdom in taxonomic classification. It is one of only about 32 such phyla in the animal kingdom. “During the last 50 to 60 years, only a few new phyla have been established,” Moroz said.

Perhaps more significant, the analysis of Xenoturbella seems to confirm that human beings and other chordates share a common ancestor, a first in science. Its extreme characteristics suggest that this common ancestor – one the creature shares with its sister phyla, echinoderms and hemichordates, as well as chordates — did not have a brain or central nervous system.

Read this entire article at University of Florida News.

Find the BBC News release here. has a very good writeup on the Xenoturbella, with explanations of the historical and recent issues of classifying this little marvel .

Side note: When I first started this site, I thought about adding a category for “New Phylum”, but figured it wasn’t likely it would ever be used…. Seems that I needed to ‘free my imagination’! SO! I am thrilled to announce the addition of the new category!

24 New Species Found by Rapid Assessment Program

29 June, 2007

Article from: AdelaideNow
June 05, 2007 05:00pm
SCIENTISTS say they have found two dozen new species in an expedition into a remote part of South America.

The Associated Press reported that an expedition by 13 scientists into the remote plateaus of eastern Suriname had turned up 24 new species, including a frog with fluorescent purple markings.

The expedition led by Conservation International discovered the species in 2005 in rainforests and swamps about 130 kilometers southeast of Paramaribo, the capital of the South American country bordering Brazil, Guyana and French Guiana.

Among the newly discovered species were the Atelopus frog, which has distinctive purple markings; six types of fish; 12 dung beetles, and one ant species… ”

Above: Amazonian Snail-Eater Snake

*Note: Aquarium enthusiasts will be interested in the discovery of several suckermouth catfish- at least 3 new species- one of which has a particularly large mouth, and another that is fond of RED algae… not to mention the appearance of the Armored catfish, which was believed to be extinct.

The original article (above) from AdelaideNow includes several pictures.
The Conservation International website has the full pdf file of the R.A.P. report.
The ABC News website has more pics– also high res. has more pics– including some not on the previous sites. has a great article with more information.