Welcome to Earth: Our Four Favorite New Species

We humans suffer from a serious case of species bias. Any time a cuddly new mammal is found, it's all anyone can talk about. But when a hard-working zoologist classifies a new spider, fish, or isopod? Not so much.

|
15 October 2014, 12:00am

We humans suffer from a serious case of species bias. Any time a cuddly new mammal is found, it's all anyone can talk about. But when a hard-working zoologist classifies a new spider, fish, or isopod? Not so much.

Sure, part of it is sheer numbers: New primates don't come along very often. On the other hand, you can walk out into the Amazon, fumigate a tree, and catch a dozen new insect species as they fall out of the sky. (This has been done before.) Still, for the sake of fairness, here are some totally radical species you're probably not going to hear about anywhere else.

DEUTERAGENIA OSSARIUM, OR THE BONE-HOUSE WASP

The bone-house wasp, discovered by a joint German-Chinese team, is pretty fucking metal. The species got its name from its peculiar nests, which are filled with the corpses of ants. Not only is that gnarly, it's also effective: The researchers found that the nests were less vulnerable than those of similar wasps, likely because of the odor wafting off of their ant boneyards.


NEOPLECOSTOMUS DOCEENSIS

A catfish from Brazil with serious DSL. These guys are a member of the Loricariidae, the biggest family of catfish in the hottest spot for new species in Latin America. Discovered by a Brazilian team, this species is notable for having "enlarged, fleshy folds" around its mouth. Basically, it looks like your standard catfish, but with Real Housewives­–style collagen injected in its lips.


PACHYSERIS INATTESA

Hard coral are the main drivers of coral-reef construction, which makes them extremely important to marine environments. They're also heavily studied, so discovering a new species is rare. This species, found in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea, is a member of the elephant skin corals, so-named for their wrinkly appearance, and it could provide insight into how to protect coral reefs from warming waters.


CHIASMOCLEIS QUILOMBOLA

A tiny new tropical frog that hails from Brazil's Atlantic Forest, which has been decimated by deforestation in the last century. Clocking in at up to half an inch long, these guys have a mighty moniker: They're named for denizens of quilombos, communities that were home to escaped slaves and other refugees during Portuguese colonial rule.

Illustrations by Nick Gazin