4. Lesula Monkey – Democratic Republic of Congo
Cercopithecus lomamiensis is a newly discovered species of African monkey found in central Democratic Republic of Congo. Together with the ‘honk barking’ Highland mangabeys (Lophocebus kipunji) of Tanzania, C. lomamiensis is only the second new species of monkey discovered in Africa in the past 28 years. Called “Lesula” by locals, the monkey was discovered by a team led by conservation biologist John Hart from the Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation. While there is so far no logging or mining taking place in the region, hunting represents an immediate threat to the species’ survival, according to the researchers. “For species with restricted ranges and reliance on primary forest, such as C. lomamiensis, uncontrolled hunting can lead to catastrophic declines over a short period,” the researchers state, calling for heightened conservation efforts and hunting controls to be established.
5. Meat-Eating Sponge - California’s Monterey Bay
Chondrocladia lyra is a meat-eating sea sponge shaped like a candelabra. It was spotted living two miles below the surface of California’s Monterey Bay and features branching limbs covered in velcro-like barbed hooks that help the sponge snare crustaceans as they are swept into its branches by deep-sea currents. ”We were just amazed. No one had ever seen this animal with their own eyes before,” said Lonny Lundsten, an invertebrate biologist at the Monterey Bay Research Aquarium Institute. The team believes the harp sponge evolved this elaborate, candelabra-like structure to increase the surface area it exposes to currents so it can capture more prey.
6. Purple Yoda Worm - Mid-Atlantic Ridge between Iceland and the Azores
Yoda purpurata is the name now given by a University of Aberdeen-led team of scientists to one of three new species of deep sea acorn worms or Enteropneusts discovered around 1.5 miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. A reddish-purple acorn worm with large lips either side of its head region reminded researchers of floppy-eared Star Wars character Yoda while pupurata is Latin for purple and describes its colorful hue. “Whilst they are not strictly a missing link in our own evolution they give an insight into what the lifestyle of our remote ancestors might have been like,” said Professor Monty Priede, Director of the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab, who led the research. ”Despite their recent discovery these animals are not rare in the deep, and now we have the technology we are finding them in abundance. The next question to be addressed is the role they play in the deep sea ecosystem.”
Image via Thinkstock
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