Top Ten New Species Surprises Of 2015
From super-small snails, to snakes, sneezing monkeys, "ninja" sharks, soul-sucking wasps and ancient, armored sea scorpions, 2015 has been a year full of new species. In case you missed the animals recently found hidden among some of the most diverse habitats, Nature World News has a recap for you.
This was a big year for tiny snails! A team of Dutch and Malaysian biologists set a new record for the world's smallest land snail, measuring in at between 0.50 and 0.60 mm in width and between 0.60 and 0.79 mm in height. These shells - subsequently dubbed Acmella nana - officially represent the tiniest land snail species known to date.
A new mammal species boasts features scientists have never seen on one animal before - a prominent flat, pink nose with forward-facing nostrils that is very similar a pig's snout, remarkably large ears, a small mouth, long hind legs for hopping, and especially long white front teeth. This interesting animal was discovered in a remote mountainous area on the island of Sulawesi in central Indonesia and was named the "hog-nosed rat" (Hyorhinomys stuempkei).
The snub-nosed monkey, also nicknamed "Snubby," was found in a remote forest of northern Myanmar. This monkey often gets rainwater in its upturned nose, which causes the animal to sneeze. To avoid this problem, the monkeys tuck their heads between their knees on rainy days.
The soul-sucking "dementor" wasp - inspired by Harry Potter's ghostlike creatures that suck away a person's happy thoughts - was just one of 139 new and unusual species discovered in the Greater Mekong region. This wasp eats its prey in a rather frightening way: It injects venom into a cockroach's belly, turning its prey into an immobile "passive zombie." However, the venom doesn't actually kill it, meaning the cockroach essentially gets eaten alive by this dementor wasp.
Imagine something that is both a sea scorpion and a sleek, fearsome Greek ship, and you have the features of a fossil found in Iowa. Researchers determined that this ginormous aquatic creature was suited with both pointy and paddle-shaped limbs and is the oldest-known species of the eurypterid, dating back 467 million years. It was a fierce Paleozoic predator and is related to modern spiders, lobsters and ticks.
Today we are used to the limbless snakes that slither around on their bellies, rather than walk on all fours. However, 120 million years ago their ancestors sported four feet, each with five digits, suggesting snakes still carry the genetic blueprints for limbs. Fossils of these ancient ancestors were originally discovered along the Crato Formation in northeastern Brazil, but were kept at the Solnhofen Museum in Germany for sometime, mislabeled as "unknown fossil." Researchers have since named the 7.8-inch-long snake Tetrapodophis amplectus, which translates to four-legged snake.
A new and special species of shark, called the Ninja Lanternshark, was discovered off the coast of Central America. The shark - scientifically known as Etmopterus benchleyi - is named after its jet-black skin, bulging eyes and cells that make it glow in the dark.
Tiny ants with dagger-like teeth live in Madagascar, Seychelles, and in many tropical regions of the world, researchers revealed this year. Fortunately for the residents of those areas, they are rarely seen. These ants - belonging to the genus Prionopelta - live underground or underneath leaf litter and are named after their odd behavior vampire-like behavior, in which they wound the young of the colony and drink their blood.
Three of these new toads were also found hidden within the cloud forests. Researchers from the Federal University of Paraná say the toads are between one and 2.5 centimeters with dark brown bodies, speckled with warts and red markings. More interestingly, scientists found that as the toads digest ants and mites, they create a skin chemical that can be poisonous to some predators, particularly snakes.
Not all living animals faced the same fate when the dinosaur-killing asteroid landed on Earth 66 million years ago. Kimbetopsalis simmonsae, a new furry prehistoric beaver-like animal, survived and became top dog following the dinosaurs' demise. Fossils of this remarkably resilient creature were found along New Mexico's badlands. While this animal first emerged during the Jurassic period and laid low during the dinosaur's reign, it quickly grew in size and dominance when its predators were wiped out.
Did you have a favorite new animal of 2015? Let us know.
For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).
-Follow Samantha on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13