A list of the most bizarre new species found and named in 2014 contains some truly awe-inspiring animals.
Of the 18,000 or so new species named and identified last year, a list of ten of the strangest ones was drawn up by scientists at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE), writes Stephanie Pappas for The Christian Science Monitor. It is thought that there remain around 10 million undiscovered species on Earth, and there are sure to be some as strange as the ones on this list.
Dead insects left for newborn wasps to feed on
One of the strangest new species is Deuteragenia ossarium, also known as the bone house wasp. In order to provide the best start in life for their offspring, females of the species lay their eggs in nursery chambers that they build in hollow plant stems, each one with a dead spider inside.
The corpse provides food for the offspring, who then move into another chamber filled with ant corpses. It is thought that as well as providing sustenance, the corpses emit a scent which deters predators from breaking into the nest.
Another weird species is Limnonectes larvaepartus, an Indonesian frog which is the only known species on Earth that gives birth to live tadpoles. For those of an artistic bent, the Torquigener albomaculosus is sure to be of interest. The Japanese pufferfish is responsible for elaborate circular designs on the seabed, which had puzzled scientists for years. It turns out they are used to attract mates.
Lists highlights Earth’s diminishing biodiversity
A number of plants also make the list, including one plant that has been used to decorate religious scenes in Mexico for years, but had never been given a scientific name. Now the bromeliad is officially known as Tillandsia religiosa.
Sadly one of the new discoveries was declared to be endangered straight away. A parasitic plant called Balanophora coralliformis was discovered on the southwestern slopes of just one mountain on Luzon Island in the Phillippines, the only place on Earth where it is known to grow.
One of the featured species closed an evolutionary gap which had puzzled scientists for years. Phyllodesmium acanthorhinum is the “missing link” between those sea slugs which eat hydroids, and others which get their nutrients from coral.
The list is designed to emphasize the incredible biodiversity of our Earth, and hopefully raise awareness of environmental issues. Scientists currently estimate that species are going extinct at a faster rate than we discover new ones, a truly sorry state of affairs.