A bug-eating sea slug? A fanged minnow? A carnivorous sponge? It’s not a carnival sideshow, but a selection of characters from the top ten new species culled from the thousands of species described and published in 2009. Each year in late May the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at Arizona State University, in conjunction with an international committee of taxonomists, announce a list of their favorite Top 10 New Species for the preceding calendar year. It’s heartening to know that as some of our favorite animals are landing on the threatened species list and others are facing more imminent peril, there is a constant crop of new, albeit sometimes bizarre, species being discovered.
The top 10 new species come from around the world, including Africa, Indonesia, Madagascar, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, the United States and Uruguay.
Name: Histiophryne psychedelica
Common Name: Psychedelic frogfish
The psychedelic frogfish (pictured above) was first described in 2009 by Ted Pietsch, Rachel Arnold, and David Hall in the scientific journal Copeia–this camouflaging cutie has been known to reach a length of 15 cm (5.9 in). It earned its spot in the Top Ten because of its unique psychedelic pattern and its difference from other frogfishes in that it is flat-faced. They can be found in Indonesia.
Etymology: “The specific epithet psychedelica, alludes to the unique pigment pattern of swirling concentric rings and stripes that everywhere cover the head, body, and fins.”
Photo: David Hall/seaphotos.com