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Top 10 New Species

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Top 10 New Species

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.

Psychedelic Frogfish
Name:  Histiophryne psychedelica
Common Name:  Psychedelic frogfish
Family:  Antennariidae

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/

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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2:56PM PST on Feb 3, 2012

Weird, bizarre--but the sea slug is cute.
Thanks for an interesting article.

2:44PM PDT on May 29, 2011

Really cool, and some gorgeous pictures!
Thank you Melissa.

2:07AM PDT on Apr 13, 2011

Thanks for all the awesome information & pictures. hopefully i don't come across the killer sponge when i am at the beach! my daughter just asked what they were (thankfully she doesn't realise they are in NZ) & said 'so they are not like Sponge Bob Square Pants that catches jellyfish?' :-)

10:53PM PST on Feb 25, 2011


1:28AM PST on Jan 21, 2011

Beautiful pictures...noted, thank you for sharing.

1:01PM PST on Dec 5, 2010

Thanks so much Melissa for this educational read. If we could only leave nature alone as it is so wonderous what it can do.
Carniferous Sponges!, The Attenborough Carniferous Plant and the sharp toothed Minnows.... WOW Also the New Kind of Yam... hope it doesn't get over harvested!

12:36PM PST on Dec 3, 2010


5:31AM PST on Nov 11, 2010

... Very nice article! Nature never ceases to amaze and impress me!

10:29PM PST on Nov 7, 2010

Beautiful adaptations!

4:53AM PDT on Nov 5, 2010

This is so amazing, Nautre keeps creating and creating.Meanwhile the human race destroys...............

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