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10 Amazing New Species: SpongeBob Fungus, Glass Frog, Tarsier & More

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10 Amazing New Species: SpongeBob Fungus, Glass Frog, Tarsier & More

Every year about 18,000 new species are added to the annals of the earth’s biodiversity. To date, scientists have described and named about 2 million species on planet earth. Unbelievably, these same scientists believe there are no less than 10 million more species that remain unknown and unnamed.

Sadly, however, some are going extinct before even being discovered. Others such as the adorable bug-eyed tarsier, known as the Siau Island Tarsier, were first described and put on “a critically endangered list” the same year. Others, such the Cryptic Forest Falcon, are doing just fine with or without human acknowledgement.

This list showcases just ten of the newest species to western science, but I hope your world will be a richer place today knowing that these extraordinary creatures exist.

SpongeBob Square Pants Fungus

Yes, this is for real – this newly discovered tropical fungus, Spongiforma squarepanstii, is named after the sophomoric cartoon character, SpongeBob Square Pants. Why? Squarepanstii, which is found in Borneo on the rainforest floor, has spongelike qualities – and it smells like pineapple. And don’t we all know that Spongebob Square Pants lives in a pineapple at the bottom of the sea (well, I didn’t, but now I do)?

When the name squarepanstii was proposed, the editors of the journal, Mycologia rejected it for being “too frivolous.” But Dr. Desjardin, co-discoverer of the new fungi, didn’t back down: “We insisted that although the science might be their business, we could name it whatever we liked. We need a little frivolity in this stodgy old science we love.”


SpongeBob Square Pants Fungus Image credit: Tom Bruns via Wiki Commons


Bubblicious Pink Millipede

With it’s shockingly bright pink color, you would think someone would have discovered this critter way before 2006, but no, this multi-legged creepy-crawly stayed a secret to humans until just a handful of years ago. Found in Thailand, this dragon millipede is the largest of its genus and brazenly active during the day, as its bright color and almond-like smell (cyanide) warn would-be predators that it is foul-tasting and harmful. Many species of millipede also produce cyanide as a defense chemical and some are red, but Desmoxytes purpurosea is the only millipede that comes in the hue of Bubblicious Bubblegum.


Cryptic Forest Falcon

Sometimes new species are heard first rather than seen, as is the case with this stunning forest falcon found in Myanmar. Micrastur mintoni, called out one day in 2002 and unlike all other days, a ornithologist with highly attuned ears realized this was a bird he had never heard before. It turned out that actually it had been seen before, but because it looked so similar to another falcon, M. givicollis, that it had been misidentified as being the same species until 2002. Ornithologists can be forgiven for the mistake as the only difference in the two birds’ appearances was a single white tail band in addition to a subtle white-tipped tail. The other difference of course, was the distinctive call.


Siau Island Tarsier

In the 21 century it is very rare to discover a new primate species, but indeed that is what happened on the tiny remote South East Asian island of Siau in 2002, when Tarsius tumpara was finally caught by scientists. This adorable bug-eyed tarsier is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but do watch-out as this little primate is completely carnivorous!

The island of Siau is dominated by Mount Karengetang, a highly active and dangerous volcano, that if it blows big-time could wipe-out this species which is found no where else in the world. Upon discovery, the Siau Island Tarsier was added to the list of “The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates” by the IUCN.


Denise’s Pygmy Seahorse

The master of disguise, this pygmy seahorse eluded scientific detection until 2003, when an underwater photographer named Denise Tackett brought it to the attention of two marine biologists. This hiccup of a seahorse can mimic the color and texture of gorgonian coral (where it primarily hides-out) and with its diminutive size (about 1/2 an inch) it is amazing it was found at all. There are eight other pygmy seahorses and they all escaped scientific detection until 1969 when the first one was described.


Next page: Glass Frogs, a Deadly Jelly, a Spiny Pig, an Ant and an Orchid

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Cherise Udell

Cherise Udell is a mom, clean air advocate, anthropologist and feline aficionado with the nomadic habit of taking spontaneous sojourns to unusual destinations. Before her adventures in motherhood, she was an intrepid Amazon jungle guide equipped with a pair of sturdy wellingtons and a 24-inch machete, as well as a volunteer at a rainforest animal rescue center.


+ add your own
9:02AM PDT on May 16, 2015

Awesome! Love the seahorse.

10:13AM PDT on Sep 21, 2013

I didn't know that so many are discovered every year. Awesome.

9:51AM PDT on Sep 18, 2013

Interesting! Thanks for sharing!

12:44AM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

Didn't know some of the species, although most of them were discovered 10 years ago.Thank you for sharing.

7:59AM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

Some cool items there. I particularly like the frog. It's eyes remind me of Hypnotoad.

5:59AM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

3:26PM PDT on Sep 12, 2013

FYI - There are links to all of the new species so you can see pics of all of them.

6:10AM PDT on Sep 12, 2013

And I think to myself - what a wonderful world - let's all look after it!

5:26AM PDT on Sep 12, 2013


6:49PM PDT on Sep 11, 2013


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people are talking

It is nice to get fresh homegrown produce when we can during the warm months. Thanks for information

Excellent info, great graphics! Good to know! Thanks for sharing this article.

Thanks for sharing the info and tips.


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