Thursday, 31 May 2018

A rare great ape, a 130-foot-tall tree and an extinct marsupial lion make the Top 10 New Species list for 2018

May 28, 2018 by Sean Greene, Los Angeles Times

The highest branches of a Brazilian forest. The permanent darkness of a cave in China. The deepest place on Earth.

Life has carved niches for itself in the most extreme and stunning habitats. As a result, it has taken on surprising—and just plain weird—physical attributes and behaviors.

In celebration of this biodiversity, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry has compiled a list of the Top 10 new species that were described by science in the previous year.

"I'm constantly amazed at how many new species show up and the range of things that are discovered," Quentin Wheeler, the college's president and founding director of the International Institute for Species Exploration, said in a statement.

This year's list includes a rare great ape, a hitchhiking beetle, an extinct omnivorous marsupial lion and many species that are critically endangered. As humans alter habitats and contribute to global climate change, species are going extinct at a faster rate than we can name them.

"If we don't find them, (these species) will be lost forever," Wheeler said. "And yet they can teach us so much about the intricacies of ecosystems and the details of evolutionary history. Each of them has found a way to survive against the odds of changing competition, climate and environmental conditions."

Here are the creatures that made the 2018 Top 10 list:
Ancoracysta twista
Location: Unknown
This microscopic marvel is unlike anything scientists have ever seen.
Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego discovered the protist living on a brain coral in a tropical aquarium. The organism propels itself with a whip-like tail, called a flagella, and uses unusual harpoon-like structures to stun and consume other protists. Because scientists found the species in captivity, they can't be sure of its geographic origins in the wild.

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