Cool New Animal Discoveries of 2009

Cool New Animal Discoveries of 2009

Last month we mentioned several new species of animals that were discovered in Ecuador, such as the glass frog, the Enyalioides lizard, and the unfortunately-named “ugly salamander.” But as you probably already knew, a small group of new species like this only represents a fraction of the annual animal findings that science reports. While it’s true that many human populations are dwindling to threatened or even extinct status at an alarming rate—largely due to human activity—it’s also true that new species are constantly being identified.

According to the World Resources Institute, scientists have identified more stars in the galaxy than number of species on Earth! With estimates of the Earth’s population averaging 10 million different species, it’s amazing that only 1.8 million have been classified. Scientists even estimate that they’ve only identified about 60% of the freshwater fish of South America.

Dr. Scott Miller, deputy undersecretary for science at the Smithsonian, says, “We think we know the mammals pretty well, but we have the most basic sort of information for only 6% of them.”

Knowing this makes every new animal discovery just that much more exciting. (And knowing this, how could we discount so many popular cryptozoology theories? After all, some of these new finds have even been mammals—with at least 25 species of our own relatives, primates, being discovered within just the last decade!) Like any other year, 2009 has yielded some fantastic animal discoveries—and we’re only halfway through the year! Here are just a few of them:

Barbados Threadsnake: This tiny reptile from the Caribbean is only about 4 inches long. Already-famous photos of the snake have shown it to be, when coiled, about the size of a quarter.

Pygmy Chameleon: A team of scientists discovered this new species, along with several others, with the help of Google Earth.

World’s Smallest Seahorse: Satomi’s Pygmy Seahorse, discovered in Indonesia, is about half an inch long. No wonder it was so hard to find!

Natural Caffeine-Free Coffee: This find is pretty self-explanatory, though nonetheless astounding. Think it will be on the market soon?

Magdalena Valley Ringlet: The most interesting thing about this new species of butterfly is that it was actually in the Natural History Museum of London for 90 years before a curator discovered that it was, in fact, a new species!

Have you read of any new animal discoveries lately? Please feel free to share them!