The International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at Arizona State University and a group of taxonomists from around the world have decided upon their chioces for the top 10 new species described in 2010. The motley crew includes a leech with giant teeth, a glowing mushroom, and a flat hopping fish, among other curious and amazing new species that we are lucky to share the globe with.
Here they are, in no particular order:
Darwin’s Bark Spider (Caerostris darwini)
This orb-weaving spider builds the largest orb webs known to man–large enough to span rivers, streams and lakes. It’s no surprise that the silk spun by these spiders is incredibly strong. In fact, it is “the toughest biological material ever studied, over ten times stronger than a similarly-sized piece of Kevlar” and more than two times stronger than any other known spider silk. The unusual ways of this impressive arachnid will allow researchers to better study size dimorphism, mate guarding, and…self castration. (I’m not sure how that plays into biological imperative, but I’m sure they have a plan.)
Etymology: The species description was prepared on 24 November 2009, exactly the 150th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species. The species is named in honor of Charles R. Darwin, 200 years after his birth.
(Image: Matjaž Kuntner)