There are about 1.9 million known species of living things on Earth. We say 'known' here because, of course, humans haven't been able to discover all of the different types of animals, plants, and fungi out there. But hey, we're not that far off, right? What are there—around 5,000 species left to discover? 50,000?
Would you believe around 8 million? Ultimately, no one really knows, but suffice to say that for all that we do know, there is still plenty that we don't. That is what makes things like the ESF International Institute for Species Exploration Top 10 New Species list so cool. Every year, this list represents the coolest recent discoveries in new species (even if, as you'll see, some of these discoveries are of extinct life).
Though we're pretty pumped to say that we have already covered one of these animals on this very website (we're so cool!), the rest of this list was a total eye-opener. Ready to meet some new life?
The Top 10 new species!
1. Ancoracysta twista—protist:
Starting small, this mysterious single-celled organism appears to have no known relatives. Even stranger? It was discovered in an aquarium in San Diego, not in the wild.
2. Atlantic forest tree—plant:
A 62 ton, 40 metre (130 foot)-tall tree with fruit that is half a metre (18 inches) long. You'd think we would've discovered this giant sooner, but, amazingly, there are only 25 trees known to exist.
3. Epimeria quasimodo—animal:
An amphipod named after Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, it looks like a sort of armoured shrimp.
4. Baffling beetle—animal:
This tiny Costa Rican buddy looks like an ant's abdomen. It uses this similarity to spend its life hitchhiking on actual ant abdomens. Odd, but hey, you live your truth, baffling beetle!
5. Tapanuli orangutan—animal:
We covered this fella last fall. It is the third known species of orangutan.
6. Swire's snailfish—animal:
It's only 11 centimetres (4 inches) long, but this tadpole-like pale diver is the deepest-dwelling fish known! It was discovered—where else?—in the Marianas Trench around 7,000 m (24,000 ft) underwater.
7. Sciaphila sugimotoi—plant:
This lovely tiny purple Japanese flower has a rare skill. It is symbiotic with a fungus, meaning that it gets its nutrition by stealing from that fungus, and not through photosynthesis. Sneaky!
8. Thiolava veneris—bacterium:
Volcanoes are known as being destructive, but they are also a home from many organisms thanks to the warmth and rich soil they produce. This bacterium grows into what looks like a hairy white carpet. Comfy!
9. Marsupial lion—extinct animal: (pictured at top) This omnivore was about the size of a Husky and hunted in Australian forests 23 million years ago.
10. Cave beetle—animal:
This tiny beetle is adapted for life underground in the dark—it has no eyes or wings, but its super-long antennae and limbs help it feel its way around.
What a list!
Whew! That's a lot of new life to get to know. Do you have a favourite? Let us know in the comments. And in the mean time, check your own backyard and park (and aquariums and closets) for new life.
You never know where a new species will be found next!