Every year brings a new cohort of species into the encylopedia of life. In the past 12 months, there have been at least 18,000 new species described. This may sound like a lot, but with millions more thought to be living on the planet, this is a mere scratch on the surface.
To celebrate the birthday of the founding father of taxonomy, Carl Linnaeus, every year the College of Environmental Science and Forestry compile a list of their favorite new species discovered over the last 12 months. Here is their selection:
Gryffindor’s Hat (Eriovixia gryffindori)
They may be little, but they’re also just a bit magical. At only 2 millimeters in length, these tiny spiders are the smallest creatures to make the list this year, and do so because of their striking resemblance to the infamous hat once owned by the famed wizard Godric Gryffindor.
Rose-tinted katydid (Eulophophyllum kirki)
Only one specimen of this beautifully colored insect has ever been found, which uses its incredibly mimicry to blend in with the foliage in which it lives. While the males are a more standard green, the females are resplendent in all their pink finery.
The indiscriminate rat (Gracilimus radix)
While most rodents are fairly consistently carnivorous, preferring to dine on other animals, this Indonesian cutie wants it all, and is one of the few truly omnivorous rats. Found only on the island of Sulawesi, this beastie is so unusual that it has been placed in its own genus.
No eyes, four penises, and many legs (Illacme tobini)
Measuring in at just 20 millimeters long and with up to 750 legs, these little millipedes are living proof that it’s not size that counts. Hailing from a long line of millipedes that go back more than 200 million years, these American insects come from good stock.
A fiery contender (Pheidole drogon)
While this species of ant may not be able to contend with its namesake in size, it sure makes up for it in appearance. The spiky armor of this New Guinean insect reminded the researchers who discovered it so much of Daenerys Targaryen’s rouge dragon that they decided to name the ant after it.
Brazilian beauty (Potamotrygon rex)
Despite the jazzy psychedelic print of this freshwater ray, it has managed to go undetected to science – similar to many of the other fish living in the Tocantins River of Brazil. The intense yellow patterning of this creature, coupled with a length of up to 1.1 meters (3.6 feet) and a weight of 20 kilograms (44 pounds), has given this funky ray the title “King of Rays”.
The inescapable nightmare (Scolopendra cataracta)
It can scuttle, it can swim, and it can dive. Not many places are safe from this latest species of centipede from Southeast Asia. As the first species of centipede ever found to dive beneath the surface, it is unique among its multi-legged brethren.
A deathly fruit (Solanum ossicruentum)
Combining the Latin for bony (ossi) and bloody (cruentum), this strange relative of the tomato has a gruesome secret. When cut in half, the fruit not only appears to “bleed”, but it then dries in a bony state. Discovered in Australia, this species has actually been known to botanists for at least 50 years, but has only just been described officially.
The inner daemon (Telipogon diabolicus)
You might not want to lean in too close to get a whiff of this newly discovered orchid from the forests of Colombia, as nestled in its center is what looks like a tiny devil. Found in a very restricted range, it is already facing extinction despite only just being revealed to the world.
The deep-sea sock (Xenoturbella churro)
With no eyes, no brain, no gut, and no anus, these bizarre deep-sea worms have puzzled biologists for more than 60 years. This year saw them finally placed on the evolutionary tree, as well as described as a new species that (apparently) looks like the delicious Spanish snack churros.