Even though humans have been exploring and recording animal species for thousands of years, we still find new species each year. So far this year, scientists have discovered subspecies of squat lobsters, Phyllurus leaf-tailed geckos, and Podogymnura intermedia.
Now, scientists are working to understand these new creatures.
How are New Species Determined?
Humans have been discovering and naming animal species for 1000s of years. However, with modern science and technology, it can be tricky for scientists to make distinctions between different species of animals. Splitting species into smaller sub-categories has become a new practice, which some scientists oppose.
Many creatures on Earth have similar characteristics. So, once a scientist finds what they think is a new species, how do they make that determination?
Scientists use a combination of factors to determine a new species, including DNA, physical characteristics, and behaviors. However, as DNA research becomes more detailed, classifications can become even more specific.
This is problematic when it comes to conservation efforts. If a species is reclassified, it can lose its conservation status.
Some people have even called for a classification board, but nothing official has been done. As of now, scientists will simply study a supposed new species, comparing it to existing ones. If enough differences are found, they will name the creature.
As of this year, several new species have been discovered already. These species are being found in some of the most remote parts of the planet.
Five Subspecies of Squat Lobster
Deep-sea squat lobsters are a plentiful species on the bottom of the ocean floor. There are over 1,000 known species of squat lobster. These invertebrates resemble hermit crabs and live on the ocean floor in canyons and near sea vents throughout the world.
Squat lobsters are known for their large diversity and ability to live in some of the most difficult places in the ocean. These are not eating lobsters.
- Munidopsis girguisi
- Munidopsis nautilus
- Munidopsis testuda
- Munidopsis cortesi
- Munidopsis hendrickxi
These squat lobsters were found around 3 miles below the surface. This environment is cold, dark, and has extremely high pressure. These creatures are completely white and nearly blind.
There were found using deep sea vehicles that explore the ocean floor. Little is known about these species at this time, and scientists have only a handful of samples to study so far.
Scawfell Island Leaf-tailed Geckos
On the remote island of Scawfell Island in Australia, a new species of leaf-tailed gecko was discovered. The island is uninhabited by humans and is made up of lots of boulders in mounds. In the cracks of these boulders, this little reptile was found.
Dr. Conrad Hoskin found this adorable gecko as part of a routine. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) & Partnership survey.
The species goes by the common name Scawfell Island Leaf-tailed Gecko with the scientific name Phyllurus fimbriatus. The lizard is great at camouflage, blending into the surrounding rock with brown, black, and white coloration. It is also described as having a beaky face, spindly legs, and a spiny, leaf-shaped tail.
As of now, there are only 30 known specimens of this species. The island is subject to fires, poachers, and invasive species.
The rocks provide some shelter from the fires, which is why these geckos probably live here.
Poachers go to the island to get leaf-tailed geckos for the exotic pet trade. Remember to always get your exotic pets from reputable sources.
Other species of geckos, such as Asian Geckos, compete for resources on the tiny island, making it hard for this Scawfell Island Leaf-Gecko to survive.
Scientists in Queensland are already working to study and preserve these beautiful creatures.
A new species of hairy hedgehog called Podogymnura intermedia has been discovered in the mountains of the Philippines. In the southeast part of Mindinao, these remarkable creatures are found on the mostly unexplored slopes of Mount Hamiguitan and Mount Kampalili.
This new species has golden-brown fur and a shrew-like nose. This is one of many of the diverse small mammals living in this region. Another hairy hedgehog species distinct from this one was also found on these mountains. Both species are endemic to this mountainous region.
This discovery shows that there are a lot of species yet to be discovered still in many of the most remote places on Earth.
Deep below the waters of the oceans and high up, hidden amongst uninhabited islands, and thriving amongst remote mountains, there are plenty of new species yet to be discovered on Earth. As humans encroach further into these animals’ territories, it is important to study these species and preserve them and their habitats.
Such late discoveries can also signify small numbers, so these creatures may already be endangered. These diverse creatures are important for the balance of ecosystems.