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12 Incredible New Animal Discoveries of 2013 (photos)

 

 

1: Neon blue dragon in Vietnam (Butler)

German and Russian biologists have discovered a stunning new species of lizard in Vietnam. The species, dubbed Calotes bachae, is described in Zootaxa.

Calotes bachae is a type of agama, a group of lizards commonly known as “forest dragons.” It was described after DNA research led by Timo Hartmann revealed it was genetically distinct from another blue lizard species found in Myanmar and Thailand. In other words, it is what scientists call a cryptic species — one that has been hiding in plain sight.

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Male Calotes bachae. Photo by Peter Geissler.
 

2: The olinguito (Hance)

In August, Zookeys announced a major discovery: the first new mammalian carnivore described in the Western Hemisphere since the 1970’s. Dubbed the olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina), the new mammal is a member of a little-known, elusive group of mammals—olingos—that are related to raccoons, coatis, and kinkajous. It lives in Andean cloud forests.

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The world’s newest species in the mammal order Carnivora: the olinguito. The one was photographed in the wild at Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador. Photo by: Mark Gurney.

 

3: New marsupial discovered in Ecuador (Hance)

Researchers working in Ecuador identified a previously unknown species of shrew-opossum, according to a study published in the Journal of Mammalogy. Contrary to its mousey appearance, Caenolestes sangay, named after the national park where it was discovered, is actually a marsupial.

The team from Pacific Lutheran University set up more than 100 live traps over 15 nights on the eastern slopes of Andes. In the course of their research they recovered five specimens of the new species, each measuring approximately 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) long. Previously, researchers had considered it to be a subspecies due to its similarities with other populations inhabiting the western slopes of the Andes. Upon further scrutiny, however, the field workers noticed a difference in the shape of the animal’s head.

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The newly discovered marsupial: Caenolestes sangay with its signature small ears and long snout. Photo courtesy of Ojala-Barbour et al.
 

4: Poison dart frog discovered in ‘Lost World’ (Butler)

In July scientists described a new species of poison dart frog after discovering it during a study to determine the impact of tourism on biodiversity in a tract of rainforest known as “The Lost World” in Guyana. The scientists named the frog Allobates amissibilis — in Latin, “that may be lost” — in recognition of its home, which was the set for British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 book, The Lost World. The frog was discovered near Turu Falls, a waterfall at the foot of the Iwokrama Mountains in Central Guyana.

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Allobates amissibilis sp. nov., newly discovered micro-endemic frog species. Photo courtesy of M. Hoelting and R. Ernst/Senckenberg
 

5: 3 species of carnivorous snails in Thailand (Smith)

Scientists from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok and the Natural History Museum, London discovered three new species of carnivorous snails in northern Thailand. The new snail species — named Perrottetia aquilonaria, P. dermapyrrhosa and P. phuphamanesis — were collected during surveys throughout Thailand between 2008 and 2012 and are described in the open access journal Zookeys. Identified by their genital organs and shell characteristics, these are the first snails in their genus Perrottetia to be described in over a century.

The snails belong to the family Streptaxidae which is a terrestrial carnivorous group of snails known to feed on insect larvae, earthworms, and even other snails. These tiny snails less than 1 centimeter in size are found living within rock crevices, endemic to a single or few limestone mountain ranges in north and north-eastern Thailand, adopting a “one hill one species” endemism.

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The beautiful bright orange-colored Perrottetia dermapyrrhosa, one of the newly described species from Thailand. Photo by: Somsak Panha.
 

6: New cat species in Brazil (Hance)

In November, scientists announced the stunning discovery of a new species of cat, long-confused with another. Looking at the molecular data of small cats in Brazil, researchers found that the tigrina—also known as the oncilla in Central America—is actually two separate species. The new species is called Leopardus guttulus and lives in the Atlantic Forest of southern Brazil, while the other Leopardus tigrinus is found in the cerrado and Caatinga ecosystems in northeastern Brazil.

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DNA tests have revealed a new small wild cat species: Leopardus guttulus. Pictured here, the new species is primarily found in the Atlantic Forest. Photo by: Projeto Gatos do Mato – Brasil/Project Wild Cats of Brazil.
 

7: 2 mouse lemurs in Madagascar (Butler)

Scientists have discovered two new species of mouse lemurs in Madagascar, bringing the total number of diminutive primates known to science to 20, according to a paper published in the International Journal of Primatology.

The lemurs were collected in 2003 and 2007 during field surveys to the eastern part of the island nation. Genetic analysis revealed them to be new species: the Marohita mouse lemur (Microcebus marohita) and the Anosy mouse lemur (Microcebus tanosi).

Both species are unusually large for mouse lemurs. Microcebus marohita tips the scales at 78 grams (2.8 ounces), making it the largest of known mouse lemurs. It reaches a length of 28 cm. Microcebus tanosi is now the second largest known mouse lemur, reaching 27 cm from snout to tail and weighing about 50 grams. It is named after the Anosy region in southeast Madagascar.

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Microcebus marohita mouse lemur. Photo by Bellarmin Ramahefasoa.
 

8: Three new giant fish from the Amazon (Hance)

It’s hard to mistake an arapaima for anything else: these massive, heavily-armored, air-breathing fish (they have to surface every few minutes) are the megafauna of the Amazon’s rivers. But despite their unmistakability, and the fact that they have been hunted by indigenous people for millennia, scientists still know relatively little about arapaima, including just how many species there are. Since the mid-Nineteenth Century, scientists have lumped all arapaima into one species: Arapaima gigas. However, two studies in Copeia split the arapaimas into at least five total species—and more may be coming.

In the most recent study, researcher Donald Stewart with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), describes an entirely new species of arapaima based on a specimen held in the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia in Brazil. Dubbed Arapaima leptosoma, the new species is more slender than Arapaima gigas and possesses other important physical differences.

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A new species of arapaima: Arapaima leptosoma. This species is housed at Sevastopol Sea Aquarium in the Ukraine, but long conflated with Arampaima gigas. Photo by: George Chernilevsky.

9: Owl species in Indonesia (Hance)

A unique whistling call has led scientists to discover a new owl on the Indonesian island of Lombok, according to a new study in PLoS ONE. Two scientific expeditions, occurring separately but within a few days of each other, both noticed something different about the calls coming from owls on Lombok.

The owl on Lombok was long-thought to be a population of the Moluccan scops owl (Otus magicus) due to similarities in plumage, but the unusual call pushed scientists to investigate further. Because they are nocturnal, owls depend on their calls to identify their own kind, allowing eavesdropping scientists to do the same.

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A new species of owl: Rinjani scops owl. Photo by: Philippe Verbelen

10: Giant flying frog in Vietnam (Hance)

Jodi Rowley is no stranger to discovering new amphibians—she’s helped describe over 10 in her short career thus far—but she was shocked to discover a new species of flying frog less than 100 kilometers from a major, bustling Southeast Asian metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City. Unfortunately, the new frog, dubbed Helen’s tree frog (Rhacophorus helenae), may be on the verge of extinction, according to the description published in the Journal of Herpetology.Measuring 10 centimeters long, the new species is described as a giant flying frog. Flying frogs don’t actually fly, but instead use webs between their hands and feet to glide from one tree to another. Researchers believe Helen’s tree frog went unnoticed for so long, because it stuck to the high canopy.
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Helen’s tree frog. Photo courtesy of Jodi Rowley.
 

11: New mountain porcupine discovered in Brazil (Hance)

In Brazil’s Baturite Mountains, scientists uncovered a new species of prehensile-tailed porcupine, according to a paper in Revista Nordestina de Biologia. Dubbed, the Baturite porcupine (Coendou baturitensis), the new species was discovered when scientists noticed significant differences between it and its closest relative, the Brazilian porcupine (Coendou prehensilis). The name prehensile-tailed refers to these porcupine’s long, mobile tail which they use as a fifth limb to adroitly climb trees.

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Close view of the new porcupine species, the Baturite porcupine: Coendou baturitensis. Photo by: Hugo Fernandes-Ferreira.
 

12: 15 new species of birds in the Amazon (Hance)

From 2000-2009, scientists described on average seven new bird species worldwide every year. Discovering a new bird is one of the least common of any species group, given that birds are highly visible, mobile, and have been scrutinized for centuries by passionate ornithologists and birders. But scientists working in the southern Amazon have recorded an incredible 15 new species of birds according to the Portuguese publication Capa Aves. In fact, this is the largest group of new birds uncovered in the Brazilian in the Amazon in 140 years.

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Scientists have discovered a new species of puffbird in the Brazilian Amazon. This is a collared puffbird (Bucco capensis) in Yasuni National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Photo by: Jeremy Hance.
 
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1223-top-new-species-2013.html#5wtpiVdqAfTRwo77.99
 
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