Despite the staggering fact that almost 99 percent of all species that ever existed on Earth are estimated to be extinct, there are still a lot plants and animals left for scientists to discover. This year saw a pretty good haul, including a monkey with a weird penis and a rat with long public hair. Here's our roundup of the best species of 2015.
Magnificent sundew (Drosera magnifica)
While known about for a long time, it wasn’t until botanist Paulo Gonella spotted a picture of the plant while scrolling through his newsfeed on Facebook that the carnivorous plant from South America was found to be a new species and formally described. Not an insignificant addition to the world of botany, the plant is actually the largest sundew found in the New World, and is already classified by the IUCN as Critically Endangered.
Kimberly death adder (Acanthophis cryptamydros)
Ryan Ellis/Western Australian Museum
Death adders are considered some of the most venomous snakes in the world, and they got another addition this year. Originally thought to have been the same species as death adders found around Darwin in the Northern Territory, researchers discovered that those living in the region of Kimberly in Western Australia were actually their own species. Around 50 centimeters (20 inches) long and with a diamond-shaped head, its golden coloration makes it look like rocks or a pile of leaves.
Snaggletoothed anglerfish (Lasiognathus dinema)
Theodore Pietsch, Ph.D. University of Washington
Stumbled upon by a team of researchers in 2011 while they were surveying the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it wasn’t until this year that the snaggletoothed anglerfish got its formal description. Not the prettiest addition to the list, it was found living 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) below the surface. The spikes on the top of its head are actually teeth from the weird creature’s top jaw, which have curled around.
White-cheeked macaque (Macaca leucogenys)
Mr. Cheng Li/Imaging Biodiversity/Tibet Forestry/New Scientist
It was the unusual penis of this monkey that caught the interest of scientists. They have a rounded glans penis and dark-colored scrotum, while other macaques in the region have a pointed glans penis and white scrotum. Found in Tibet, the monkeys were documented using camera traps dotted around the tropical forest in which they live. So far the primates have only been identified through photos, as the researchers weren’t particularly keen to kill and collect one of the monkeys.
Sparklemuffin and Skeletorus peacock spider (Maratus jactatus and Maratus sceletus)
Here you get two cuties for the price of one. Discovered in southern Queensland, Australia, one of the beautiful diminutive spiders is black and white, while the other is adorned with blue and red stripes, hence their nicknames of Skeletorus and Sparklemuffin. In true peacock spider fashion, the males inflate their silk-spinning organs and display their flap-like body part in their adorable courtship dances.
Santa Cruz tortoise (Chelonoidis donfaustoi)
Washington Tapia/Galapagos Conservancy
This one might cause a bit of a debate, as arguments rage about whether or not all the giant tortoises living on the Galapagos Islands are actually distinct species, or just subspecies. This year, scientists used genetic tests to declare that what was previously thought to be one species of tortoise living in Santa Cruz, is actually two. This brings the known number of surviving Galapagos giant tortoise species/subspecies to 11.
World’s smallest snail (Acmella nana)
Menno Schilthuizen, Naturalis Biodiversity Center CC-BY 4.0
The miniature gastropod knocked the previous smallest snail off its spot only a month after the first was announced. Found in Borneo, its height ranges between a miniscule 0.6 and 0.79 millimeters (0.02 and 0.031 inches), though only the empty shells have so far been found. Discovered by sifting through soil samples, it’s thought that this tiny creature probably feeds on bacteria and fungi living on the walls of caves.
Diane’s bare-hearted glass frog (Hyalinobatrachium dianae)
This little amphibian took the Internet by storm earlier in the year due to its impressive resemblance to a certain lime green Muppet. Despite looking a lot like Kermit, the amphibian also stands out due to the fact that its skin is so translucent, you can see its organs. Found in Costa Rica, it’s the first glass frog to be found in the country since 1973, and is named after the researcher’s mother.
Hog-nosed rat (Hyorhinomys stuempkei)
Kevin C. Rowe/Museum Victoria
Not exactly a looker, this creature has a long, pink, flat nose – which gives the rodent its name – as well as big ears, sharp teeth, and long legs. As if that wasn’t enough, the researchers also called attention to its unusually long public hairs. Found on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia, it was first discovered in 2009 but has only just been described. So weird is the hog-nosed rat, it doesn’t just represent a new species, but an entirely new genus.
Attenborough’s flat lizard (Platysaurus attenboroughi)
No list of new species would be complete without at least one named after famous naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Despite having a whole menagerie of creatures (both great and small) named after him, this brightly colored reptile from South Africa is the first lizard. The males of the species flash their bright colors by lifting and twisting their flat bodies in an attempt to attract the females.