Photo: NOAA / YouTube
2016 was a year of mayhem and discovery. As we bid one final farewell to the last 12 months, let’s look back and examine the most iconic new species uncovered by our curious scientists.
10. Wasteland Frog
— Futurity News 🔭 (@FuturityNews) April 28, 2016
Named for the rocky terrain in which it lives, the “wasteland frog” is so small it can fit atop a person’s thumbnail. Ironically, the region housing the frog has been described as a major “hotspot for biodiversity.”
9. Peacock Spider
— Inspire Wildlife (@inspirewildlife) December 27, 2016
The peacock spider doesn’t have a tail or feathers, but its vastly-colored body immediately won the heart of its native Australia. Approximately 48 species of peacock spider are believed to exist, none of which are larger than five millimeters long (probably why they’ve been so hard to find).
8. Klingon Newt
— Popular Science (@PopSci) December 27, 2016
If you’re a Star Trek fan, you’ll be intrigued by our next discovery, the Klingon newt. Found in Southeast Asia, the animal boasts a bumpy red-and-black forehead reminiscent of the fictional species. Presently, their surroundings are threatened by human expansion, which likely explains why they’re now suddenly entering our midst – their habitat is shrinking, and it’s shrinking fast.
7. Tailless Rabbit
In the remote upper reaches of the Eastern Himalayas in Sikkim, India, scientists have discovered a new species of pika: pic.twitter.com/x7e9wVgub0
— Mongabay (@mongabay) October 8, 2016
What is playfully described as a “tailless rat” is actually a tailless rabbit. Dubbed Ochotona Sikimaria, this new animal was discovered in the highest altitudes of the Himalayas, and identified from genetic data, pellets and skull measurements. These creatures are highly vulnerable to climate change (what a shock), and are already running the risk of becoming extinct.
6. Marquez’s Tarantula
— AIDA in English (@AIDAorg) July 5, 2016
2014 saw the unfortunate passing of Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez. While the author built a name for himself in literature, his legacy will carry on through the discovery of “Marquez’s spider” in his native Colombia. A fearsome-looking tarantula, this creature has a unique way of using its urticating hairs in direct attacks against enemies.
5. Dracula Ants
— Ken Chong (@maughams) April 1, 2014
Vampire bats, vampire squid, and now… vampire ants?? Six new species of ants dubbed “Dracula ants” have been discovered in the soil of Madagascar. The name derives from their unusual habit of drinking the blood of beetle larvae. Sounds delicious! Their elongated jaws and large pincers also allow them to go after the occasional centipede. These creatures spend most of their time in the dirt, though colonies have also been uncovered in rotting logs.
4. Ziggy Stardust Snake
— Newsy (@NewsyVideos) December 22, 2016
Following the death of music icon David Bowie, many scientists thought it only right to name a species after him. The “Ziggy Stardust” snake was discovered among the cliffs of northern Laos. With its rainbow-colored head and “psychedelic scales,” this serpent’s nickname should come as no surprise.
3. Spaceship Jellyfish
The spaceship jellyfish is not from another planet, but from within our oceans… 3,700 meters (12,000 feet) below the surface within the Mariana Trench (which some claim still houses the prehistoric Megalodon shark). The animal boasts bioluminescence and long tentacles which jut out directly from its center bell, like something out of an H.G. Wells novel. On Twitter, Tech Insider described it as “a yo-yo spider stuffed with lightbulbs.”
2. Gryffindor Spider
— Children's Museum IN (@TCMIndy) December 30, 2016
The third arachnid on our list, Eriovixia Gryffindori is a nocturnal spider discovered in the mountains of India and named after the house of Gryffindor in the Harry Potter series due to its uncanny resemblance to the sorting hat (hopefully it won’t put you in Slytherin). Author J.K. Rowling took to Twitter to express her joy that the spider would be named after one of her own literary creations. “I’m truly honored,” she wrote. “Congratulations on discovering another #FantasticBeast!”
1. Illacme Tobini
— Berder (@Berder_) November 1, 2016
Illacme Tobini is a millipede with 414 legs, 200 poison glands, and… Four penises (this little guy knows how to have fun). Bringing the term “foursome” to new heights, the creature was found in a cave in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. The animal has no eyes, relying strictly on motion and touch to make its way around… I guess that’s what the extra penises are for… Life can’t be all about sex, can it?