Blue Testicled Monkey
The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University announced its list of the top 10 species officially described in 2012. The publication of the list marks the birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, founder of the modern system of species classification.
Male lesula monkeys (Cerocopithecus lomamiensis) have bald, brilliant blue testicles, buttocks and perineum. Locals in the Congo regularly hunt the monkey for food, but primatologists didn’t catch their first glimpse of the shy mammal until 2007. Lesulas are only the second monkeys to be discovered in Africa in 28 years.
This snake’s scientific name, Sibon noalamina, has a green goal. “No a la mina” means “no to the mine” in Spanish. In the snake’s native range in western Panama, mining threatens to destroy sensitive highland rainforests. The no-to-the-mine snake doesn’t pack a venomous bite, but its coloration may mimic the deadly coral snake.
A carnivorous sponge?! In truth the lyre sponge (Chondrocladia lyra) uses its harp-shaped arms to capture plankton floating in the deep waters off the coast of California.
Hugh H. Iltis (for puna habitat), Harvey Ballard (for plant)
The diminutive Lilliputian violet (Viola lilliputana) takes its name from the tiny race of people in Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver’s Travels." This shrunken violet grows to barely 1 centimeter tall and lives only on a high plateau in the Peruvian Andes.
Christopher C. Austin
Tiniest Vertebrate Ever
The Lilliputian violet would make a nice bouquet for the newly crowned tiniest vertebrate on the planet, the frog Paedopphryne amanuensis. The itty-bitty amphibian averages 7.7 millimeters in adult length. The frog lives in moist leaf litter in the forest near the village of Amau, Papua New Guinea.
The emerald green shrub Eugenia petrikensis may go immediately from discovery to the endangered species list. The plant, which boasts magenta flowers, inhabits the fragmented coastal forest of Madagascar. The extremely bio-diverse forests also face massive pressure from expanding human settlement, farming and logging.
Illustration based on A3 size line-drawing/Peter Vrsansky 2012
Eugenia petrikensis may be endangered, but another species described in 2012 may already be extinct. The glowing roach Lucihormetica luckae was identified from a specimen collected 70 years ago. No others have been collected because a volcanic eruption demolished the glow-in-the-dark bug’s habitat.
Pedro M. Martin-Sanchez
A black fungus (Ochroconis anomala) was discovered growing on the walls of the famous Ice Age paintings in Lascaux cave, France. The fungus defaced the ancient art and left a dark stain.
Hock Ping Guek
Social Media Buzz
This new species of lacewing (Semachrysa jade) was discovered after photographer Hock Ping Guek posted a photo of the bug to Flickr. Entomologist Shaun Winterton saw the photo and asked Guek to send him a specimen. The lacewing turned out to be unknown to science.
Ms. Chen Wang
A fossilized hangingfly (Juracimbrophlebia ginkofolia) was discovered hanging around with preserved leaves from a Jurassic Era tree. The insect had evolved to look like the leaves of the ancient ginko-like tree. Like its living relatives, the hangingfly likely evolved to blend in with the foliage so the predatory bug could get the drop on prey insects.