New Monkey Species Found

26 May, 2008
Excerpt from original article by
Dave Hansford
for National Geographic News
February 4, 2008

A previously unknown species of uakari monkey was found during recent hunting trips in the Amazon, a New Zealand primatologist has announced.

Jean-Phillipe Boubli of the University of Auckland found the animal after following native Yanomamo Indians on their hunts along the Rio Aracá, a tributary of the Rio Negro in Brazil.

“I searched for that monkey for at least five years. The reason I couldn’t find it was because the place where they were was sort of unexpected.”
Boubli named the new monkey Cacajao ayresii after Brazilian biologist José Márcio Ayres.

Excerpt from the New Zealand Herald:

In 2003, Dr Boubli described a new species of bearded saki monkey (Chiropotes israelita), and he has said the Pantepui region of the Amazon basin on the Brazil-Venezuela border also contains new species of spider monkey, squirrel monkey and capuchin monkey.

“Finding a relatively large monkey as a new species these days is pretty cool,” Dr Boubli told National Geographic magazine. “It shows how little we really know about the biodiversity of the Amazon.”

Follow links above to original sources.

Find more (excellent) information at

Frog Without Lungs Found in Indonesia

10 April, 2008
Exerpt from original article by:
MICHAEL CASEY, AP Environmental Writer
Thursday, April 10, 2008
(04-10) 05:43 PDT BANGKOK, Thailand (AP)

A frog has been found in a remote part of Indonesia that has no lungs and breathes through its skin, a discovery that researchers said Thursday could provide insight into what drives evolution in certain species.
“These are about the most ancient and bizarre frogs you can get on the planet,” Bickford said of the brown amphibian with bulging eyes and a tendency to flatten itself as it glides across the water.

“They are like a squished version of Jabba the Hutt,” he said, referring to the character from Star Wars. “They are flat and have eyes that float above the water. They have skin flaps coming off their arms and legs.”

Along with the lungless frog, Bickford said his team discovered two new lizard species and four other species of frogs during their two-month trip.

Read full article at The San Francisco Chronicle online.

New Shrew! er… “Sengi”

27 February, 2008
shrew.jpgFrom BBC news:

Despite its name, the creature, along with the 15 other known species of elephant shrew, is not actually related to shrews.

Dr Rathbun told the BBC News website: “Elephant shrews are only found in Africa. They were originally described as shrews because they superficially resembled shrews in Europe and in America.”

In fact, the creature is more closely related to a group of African mammals, which includes elephants, sea cows, aardvarks and hyraxes, having shared a common ancestor with them about 100 million years ago.

“This is why they are also known as sengis,” explained Dr Rathbun.

shrew1.jpgFrom Yahoo news:

The newcomer, dubbed Rhynchocyon udzungwensis, stands head and shoulders above his cousins, weighing in at a massive 700 grammes (1.5 pounds), about 25 percent larger than any other known sengi.

He was identified by scientists Galen Rathbun of the California Academy of Sciences and Francesco Rovero of the Museum of Natural Sciences in Trento, Italy.

Their discovery is published in the February issue of the British-based Journal of Zoology.


“This is one of the most exciting discoveries of my career,” Rathbun, a 30-year veteran of sengi-watching, said in a press release.

“It is the first new species of giant elephant-shrew to be discovered in more than 126 years. From the moment I first lifted one of the animals into our photography tent, I knew it must be a new species — not just because of its distinct colouring, but because it was so heavy!”

Find the full BBC article here.

Read the rest of the Yahoo article here.

(thank you for reminding me, Ashley. I’ve been busy lately, and hadn’t gotten around to posting this one.)


the Smithsonian recently had an elephant shrew birth!

(tho not of this new species, it has great footage of elephant shrews on the move!)

Parasite Turns Ant into Bird Bait

18 January, 2008
From an original article
posted at

“When the ant Cephalotes atratus is infected with a parasitic nematode, its normally black abdomen turns red, resembling the many red berries in the tropical forest canopy. According to researchers, this is a strategy concocted by nematodes to entice birds to eat the normally unpalatable ant and spread the parasite in their droppings. (Steve Yanoviak/University of Arkansas)

Read the full article at

A Rodent as Big as a Bull?!

17 January, 2008
The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 16, 2008;


— Eeek! Imagine a rodent that weighed a ton and was as big as a bull. Uruguayan scientists say they have uncovered fossil evidence of the biggest species of rodent ever found, one that scurried across wooded areas of South America about 4 million years ago, when the continent was not connected to North America.
A herbivore, the beast may have been a contemporary, and possibly prey, of saber-toothed cats _ a prehistoric version of Tom and Jerry.

For those afraid of rodents, forget hopping on a chair. Its huge skull, more than 20 inches long, suggested a beast more than eight feet long and weighing between 1,700 and 3,000 pounds….

Read the full article at the Washington Post online.

New Pig Species Found in Disappearing Forest

17 November, 2007


(AP) — A Dutch scientist thinks he has discovered a new species of wild pig nearly twice the size of other pigs in Brazil’s Amazon region.
At four feet long and 90 pounds, the pig is the latest in a string of new species that Marc van Roosmalen reported to have found since 1996. His findings were published in the Oct. 29 edition of the German scientific journal Bonner Zoologische Beitrage.

Van Roosmalen, said his discovery of the peccary – a kind of wild pig he dubbed Pecari maximus – points out the need to protect the region as a habitat for wild species.

He said he made his discovery by accident in 2000, while searching for a new monkey species.


The region where Roosmalen discovered the new peccary and other species – mostly primates – lies along a logging frontier around Nova Aripuana, where the number of sawmills has grown from two in 2002 to 14 today.


DNA analysis showed the animal diverged from the most closely related species, Pecari tajacu, or collared peccary, about 1 million to 1.2 million years ago, Van Roosmalen said.

Find the full article at

World’s hottest chile pepper discovered

26 October, 2007
The following is copied directly from
Contact: Michael W. Neff
American Society for Horticultural Science

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — Researchers at New Mexico State University recently discovered the world’s hottest chile pepper. Bhut Jolokia, a variety of chile pepper originating in Assam, India, has earned Guiness World Records’ recognition as the world’s hottest chile pepper by blasting past the previous champion Red Savina. In replicated tests of Scoville heat units (SHUs), Bhut Jolokia reached one million SHUs, almost double the SHUs of Red Savina, which measured a mere 577,000.

Dr. Paul Bosland, Director of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences collected seeds of Bhut Jolokia while visiting India in 2001. Bosland grew Bhut Jolokia plants under insect-proof cages for three years to produce enough seed to complete the required field tests. “The name Bhut Jolokia translates as ‘ghost chile,’” Bosland said, “I think it’s because the chile is so hot, you give up the ghost when you eat it!” Bosland added that the intense heat concentration of Bhut Jolokia could have significant impact on the food industry as an economical seasoning in packaged foods.


The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site:

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. Society website –

FOUR new KINGDOMS of Life Discovered in Colorado

8 October, 2007


Thursday, 22 May 2003
Excerpt from original article
by Danny Kingsley
ABC Science Online

Four complete new kingdoms of life have been discovered by American researchers in the high alpine environment of Colorado, rewriting the textbooks on microbes.

The new microbe kingdoms were found in barren, boulder-filled tundra slopes west of Boulder, Colorado, delegates of the a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Washington DC heard this week.

Dr Allen Meyer, a medical practioner working with Professor Steven Schmidt in the environmental, population and organismic biology department of the University of Colorado in Boulder, made the discovery as part of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s ‘Microbial Observatories’ program.

“It is very interesting and kind of surprising to discover four kingdoms in the same locality,” Dr Don Colgan, an evolutionary biologist at the Australian Museum in Sydney, commented to ABC Science Online.

Until relatively recently, ‘kingdom’ was the highest level of classification in the scientific taxonomic system that places all forms of life into hierarchical categories. Kingdoms are made up of divisions (or phyla), which themselves break down again into classes, then orders, families, genus and finally, species.

Scientists in the 18th century originally classified the kingdoms of life into two basic groups: plants and animals. In 1977, Dr Carl Woese turned biology on its head when he discovered the ‘third kingdom of life’: archaea micro-organisms that live near volcanic vents on the seafloor without oxygen and in conditions thought to be reminiscent of Earth’s earliest environment. He has since proposed that these three kingdoms be placed in a higher classification, called domains.

Two advances in science have helped uncover even more new kingdoms of life, Colgan said: the increase in the analytical power of computers and the discovery of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) process, which has allowed scientists to look at DNA sequences in intricate detail. A debt must also be paid to adventurers who go to extreme places and collect samples, he added.

Scientists now believe there are many more kingdoms, including fungi and a number of types of single-celled organisms. The number of kingdoms was estimated to be about 30 before the University of Colorado discovery. [more…]

Much MUCH more information is included in the Original Article at the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) website, News in

Found: 37,000! New Extremophile Marine Microbes

4 October, 2007


Excerpt from
original article
by Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO (Reuters) –

Using new DNA sequencing techniques, the researchers have identified as many as 37,000 different kinds of bacteria huddled near two hydrothermal vents on an underwater volcano off the Oregon coast.

“Many of these bacteria had never been reported before,” said Julie Huber of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, whose study appears in the journal Science.


Her research is part of an international effort to create a census of marine microbes, which make up as much as 90 percent of the total ocean biomass by weight.

Read the full, detailed article at

Looks Like a Duck, and Walks Like a Duck…

4 October, 2007

Then it MUST be 2 newly discovered DINOSAURS!


–Excerpt from original
article by: Scott Norris
for National Geographic News
October 3, 2007

“A massive fossil skull found in southern Utah represents a new species of duck-billed dinosaur, researchers say.

The unusually well-preserved skull shows the duckbill was a muscular vegetarian, with hundreds of teeth and bulging jaws.

“It could have eaten whatever [vegetation] was in its way,” said lead researcher Terry Gates, a paleontologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.


Gates and colleague Scott Sampson studied the skull, and concluded that it is a new species of hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur.

The species was given the scientific name Gryposaurus monumentensis in honor of the national monument where the skull was unearthed.”

Read full article at National Geographic.

News in Science article here.



Excerpt from article at

” A strange, long-necked waddling dinosaur with massive arms and probably enormous claws has been discovered.

It walked only on its hind legs like the carnivorous dinosaurs from which it evolved, but Suzhousaurus megatherioides, meaning “giant sloth-like reptile from Suzhou,” was an herbivore, says researcher Daqing Li of the Third Geology and Mineral Resources Exploration Academy of Gansu Province in northwestern China, where the fossil specimen was found.

The creature belongs to a group of dinosaurs called therizinosaurs, characterized by long necks capped by small heads, massive arms and claws, and flaring ribs and hips that made their bodies very wide. […]”

Read the entire (very detailed) article at

New Tribe Spotted in Peruvian Amazon!

4 October, 2007
30-matis-blowgun-hunting.jpgOctober 4, 2007 From BBC News

A previously unknown indigenous group living in isolation has been found deep in Peru’s Amazon jungle, a team of ecologists has said. The ecologists spotted the 21 Indians near the Brazilian border as they flew overhead looking for illegal loggers.

The group was photographed and filmed from the air on the banks of the Las Piedras River in Peru’s south-eastern Amazon region.

A government official who was on the flight said there were three palm huts on the river bank.

“We’ve found five other sites with this kind of shelter along the same river,” Ricardo Hon told Associated Press news agency.


Get more info from the original article at BBC News.–While you’re there, make a point to check out the links to other articles about Peruvian Indians in the news. The links can be found at the top of the right-hand column.

Find an INCREDIBLE resource for information on Native Amazonian tribes (including maps, photos*, videos, illustrations of different ceremonies- like the ‘Poison Frog Ceremony’- and MUCH more!) at,, and

*please be aware that there is ‘National Geographic’ style nudity in the photos at these sites. These are native Natives.
Photo credit:, with many thanks! The Indians pictured are of the Matis tribe, of theYavarí Valley in Brazil. They bear many cultural and linguistic similarities to other tribes in Peru. You can find out more about that at the site.

New Snake, Butterfly, and 9 Others Found in Vietnam

26 September, 2007

The tropical forests of Vietnam are throwing open their secrets, as scientists discover 11 new species including two types of butterfly and a snake.

The species, which also include five orchids and three other plants, are exclusive to the remote area in the centre of the country known as the “Green Corridor”, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) charity said.orchidaspidistra.jpg

A further 10 kinds of plant, including four orchids, are still being examined but are thought to be new species.

The WWF said the animals and plants, found in forests in the Annamites Mountains of Thua Thien Hue province where several mammal species were discovered in the 1990s, could represent the “tip of the iceberg” of new species.

Find the original article at the Daily Mail.

New Flying Fox Species Surprises Scientists

20 September, 2007
flying-fox.jpgExerpt from
original article
by Blake de Pastino
from National
September 18, 2007

This unusual species of flying fox was recently discovered in the Philippines not long after it was deemed not to exist.

Jake Esselstyn, a biologist with the University of Kansas, was among a team of researchers that found the animal, a type of fruit bat, last year while surveying forest life on the island of Mindoro.

“When we first arrived on Mindoro, a local resident that we hired as a guide described the bat to me in great detail, and he asked me what it was called,” Esselstyn said.

“I politely told him that there was no such bat. I was wrong.”

Several days into the survey, the scientists accidentally captured a creature in a net that fit the guide’s description: a large flying fox with bright orange fur and distinctive white stripes across its brow and jaw.

In his own defense, the scientist pointed out that the species’ closest known relative lives some 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) away on an island in Indonesia.

“It makes you wonder if there are other related species on islands between,” he said.

Read the full article at National Geographic!

New Flycatcher Bird Species Discovered in Peru

20 September, 2007
Excerpt from article
originally posted at
August 13, 2007


“Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of bird in dense bamboo thickets in the Peruvian Amazon.

Writing in the journal The Auk, authors led by Daniel F. Lane of the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science describe the new species of twistwing (Cnipodectes superrufus).

The scientists say the brownish-red colored bird […] remained unknown until the present due to its poorly known, and largely inaccessible habitat: thickets of thorny bamboo (Guadua weberbaueri) in southeastern Peru.

Relatively little is known about the species. It apparently eats small arthropods (mostly insects) and has a call similar to that of the Sulfur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin (Neopelma sulphureiventer).”

Read the full article at

Daniel F. Lane, Grace P. Servat, Thomas Valqui H.A, and Frank R. Lambert (2007). A DISTINCTIVE NEW SPECIES OF TYRANT FLYCATCHER (PASSERIFORMES: TYRANNIDAE: CNIPODECTES) FROM SOUTHEASTERN PERU. THE AUK Volume 124, Issue 3 (July 2007)

Six New Species Found in Africa!

4 September, 2007
By Charles Q. Choi,
Special to LiveScience
posted: 07 August 2007
03:32 pm ET

In a once-lost forest in Africa, six animal species new to science have been discovered, members of a two-month expedition now reveal, including a bat, a rodent, two shrews and two frogs.newbat.jpg

“If we can find six new species in such a short period, it makes you wonder what else is out there,” said Wildlife Conservation Society researcher Andrew Plumptre.

Read the entire article at

New Golden Frog Discovered In Remote Region Of Colombia

31 August, 2007

goldenfrog.jpg “Science Daily A new poisonous frog was recently discovered in a remote mountainous region in Colombia by a team of young scientists supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP). The new frog, which is almost two centimetres in length, was given the name the “golden frog of Supatá.””

Rad the entire article at

Mule Gives Birth!

29 July, 2007
muleandfoal.jpgExcerpt from an
article at KJCT8News

” High up on the Mesa, in the Grand Valley town of Collbran, a tiny four legged wonder sticks close to its mothers side. It is the latest addition to the ranch owned by Larry and Laura Amos. But this is a once-in-a-million, genetically impossible occurrence of a mule giving birth.

The mother of this beauty, is named Kate. She is a mule. Mules are a hybrid of two species, a female horse and a male donkey. Breeding the two results in a species with 63 chromosomes. A horse has 64, a donkey has 62. A mule can’t reproduce because you need an even number of chromosomes to divide into pairs.

This little wonder came into the world in late April to the shock of the Amos family. Doting mother Kate has no idea what she has accomplished.”

Read more of this article here.

Read the original story at Mules and More.

Thanks to flamencohorse for the scoop!

Found: Giant Lobster Species!

26 July, 2007
4kglobsters.jpgNovember 2006
From an article at
Science in Africa:

“South African Marine biologist Professor Charles Griffith from the University of Cape Town has chalked up the discovery of over 100 new species in his career. These include a new genus of freshwater shrimp, Mathamelita, named after his son Matthew, and a new family of seaslugs, Lemindidae named by his wife after their daughter Melinda – indeed a real family affair! His most recent find is larger meat though: a new giant species of spiny lobster, Palinurus barbarae (Decapoda Palinuridae) from Walters Shoals on the Madagascar Ridge.

Only three new lobster species have been identified in the past 12 years, worldwide. These beauties weigh in at up to 4kgs [*] and were discovered accidentally, when a Spanish fishing vessel working in the Indian Ocean docked in Durban and applied for a permit to export their lobster catch to Europe. …”  continued…

*some sites have reported the lobsters weigh “1kg, or 4lbs”- which is incorrect anyway (1kg=2.2lbs approx), but the Census of Marine Life website lists them as 4kg, so I am trusting their data.

Found! 500 Species: “Extremophiles” and Living Fossils

26 July, 2007
May 19, 2006

A host of record-breaking discoveries and revelations that stretch the extreme frontiers of marine knowledge were achieved by the Census of Marine Life in 2006, highlights of which were released today.

They include life adapted to brutal conditions around 407°C fluids spewing from a seafloor vent (the hottest ever discovered), a mighty microbe 1 cm in diameter, mysterious 1.8 kg (4 lb) lobsters off the Madagascar coast, a US school of fish the size of Manhattan Island, and more unfamiliar than familiar species turned up beneath 700 meters of Antarctic ice.

Below are some pics and brief descriptions of a few of the discoveries. Visit Census of Marine Life’s website to find out more about the creatures!

Find an excellent article with lots of info at EurekAlert.
Read another article at Times Online.



“A “Jurassic” shrimp, Neoglyphea neocaledonica, believed extinct for 50 million years, found in the Coral Sea. Credit: B. Richer de Forges ©2006″



“Antarctic Jellyfish: this species was filmed in Antarctic waters that have been kept in darkness for thousands of years by thick ice cover. …”



A new species of squid, Promachoteuthis sloani, found along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Credit: MAR-ECO/R. Young”


New Whale Species Announced

24 July, 2007
bluewhale.jpgJohn Roach
for National Geographic News
November 19, 2003

The number of rorqual whale species swimming in the world’s oceans has jumped to eight from six, according to new research by a team of Japanese scientists published in tomorrow’s issue of the science journal Nature. The research shows that rorquals commonly referred to as Bryde’s whales actually represent three distinct species.

Rorqual whales (Balaenoptera) do not have teeth. Instead they have baleen, a horny substance found in rows of plates along their upper jaws, and they are thus classified as baleen whales. They range from about 26 to 92 feet (8 to 28 meters) in length and weigh upwards of 220,000 pounds (100,000 kilograms).

Rorquals are found throughout the world’s oceans and are distinguished by their long bodies and pleated throats. Their most familiar species are the common minke whale (B. acutorostrata) and the blue whale (B. musculus). Read the full article at National— find out why the new species were only recently discovered, and the difficulties in studying this group of whales.

The AFP report can be found  at

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

Eight New Orchid Species Found in Papua New Guinea

21 July, 2007
cadetia-newExcerpt from original article published October 18, 2006—-

Scientists from the conservation nonprofit WWF discovered at least eight new species of orchid while surveying previously unexplored forests in the Kikori region on the southern coast of New Guinea’s principal island.


Over the course of three expeditions, the scientists collected some 300 orchid species, 8 of which have been confirmed as new to science, with 20 more still awaiting verification as new varieties.

“There are over 3,000 known species found here with countless varieties undoubtedly yet to be discovered.”

Read the full article and find more photos at National

—Photograph © WWF/Wayne Harris

New Species of Orchid Flirts With Wasps

21 July, 2007
hammerorchidFrom an original article by Christine Dell’Amore
July 17, 2007—

The recently discovered Hammer Orchid has evolved to imitate the appearance of a female wasp. Curious male wasps are lured in to investigate, and when they land on the flower, they unwittingly collect and disperse pollen.
The orchid is one of six new species found in the biologically rich region of southwestern Australia.

…Several of the orchid species are threatened by pressures such as invasive species and illegal harvesting.

Find the complete story at National

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.

Two New Species Survived Iceland’s Ice Age

19 July, 2007

icelandshrimp.jpgScientists at Holar University College and the University of Iceland have discovered two species of groundwater amphipods (one of which is in its own family). These are currently the only species known to be endemic to Iceland.

Bjarni K. Kristjánsson, the scientist who found the two species, believes that their presence in Iceland can only be explained if they are leftovers from the last ice age.

From the EurekAlert article:

“Groundwater amphipods are poor at dispersal, and can not be transported with birds or humans,” says Jörundur Svavarsson. One of these new species falls within a new family of amphipods, which indicates that the species has been a long time in Iceland. “The time since the end of the last glaciation is not enough for a family to evolve,” says Svavarsson. Kristjansson and Svavarsson find it likely that the amphipod came to Iceland as early as 30-40 million years ago, when the volcanic island was being formed. “If our theory is right, we have discovered the oldest inhabitants of Iceland, and that can help us further understand how Iceland was formed,” says Kristjansson.

Full article at EurekAlert!

Image credit: Thorkell Heidarsson

What’ll They Do Next- Revive the Dodo? really?

9 July, 2007
dodo.jpgFrom an article by
Kate Ravilious
National Geographic News
July 3, 2007

Adventurers exploring a cave on an island in the Indian Ocean have discovered the most complete and well-preserved dodo skeleton ever found, scientists reported yesterday.

Researchers say the find would likely yield the first useful samples of the extinct, flightless bird’s DNA.

Get all the details from the original article at National Geographic Online.

Squid Body + Octopus Legs = New Species?

6 July, 2007
octosquid.jpgExcerpt from
original article
by Brittany P. Yap

What appears to be a half-squid, half-octopus specimen found off Keahole Point on the Big Island remains unidentified today and could possibly be a new species, said local biologists.

The specimen was found caught in a filter in one of Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority’s deep-sea water pipelines last week. The pipeline, which runs 3,000 feet deep, sucks up cold, deep-sea water for the tenants of the natural energy lab.

“When we first saw it, I was really delighted because it was new and alive,” said Jan War, operations manager at NELHA. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

According to Richard Young, an oceanography professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the specimen tentatively belongs to the genus Mastigoteuthis, but the species is undetermined.

War, who termed the specimen “octosquid” for the way it looked, said it was about a foot long, with white suction cups, eight tentacles and an octopus head with a squidlike mantle.

Get all the details, and another photo, from the original article at

Find the June 29th announcement of the find at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

July 6, 2007

The specimen [died two days later, then] was preserved and sent to the University of Hawaii-Manoa’s oceanography team, which examined the carcass and today announced the deep-sea squid belongs to an already identified species. However, so little is known about the species that scientists have not yet given it a name.

Read the update and what they’ve learned about the octosquid at National Geographic Online.

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