May 23, 2011 --
Earth isn't such a small world after all. In fact, plenty of animals, plants, fungi and more new to science are turning up every day. Each year, the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University compiles a list of the top 10 new species, be they the most interesting, unique or downright bizarre. We begin with the Louisiana pancake batfish, a flat, oval-shaped fish that hops, rather than swims, along the seafloor with its rear fins. This deep-water creature, which lives around 1,500 feet below the surface, was threatened last year by encroaching oil as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
© Cassius V. Stevani/IQ-USP, Brazil
These glow-in-the-dark mushrooms are native to a disappearing forest habitat near São Paulo, Brazil. Growing to a mere 8 millimeters tall, these mushrooms, known as Mycena luxaeterna, meaning eternal light mushrooms, emit their eerie neon-green glow 24 hours a day. Although there are an estimated 1.5 million species of fungi on Earth, only 71 species are thought to be bioluminescent.
© Matjaž Kuntner
Named after Charles Darwin, this Darwin bark spider (Caerostris darwini) can build webs that stretch along entire rivers. The largest discovered so far was 82 feet (25 meters) long. The silk woven by this arachnid architect is twice as strong as any other known spider silk. A similarly sized piece of Kevlar is one-tenth as strong as this spider's silk. Considering how large the webs are and how strong their silk is, you'd figure this spiders would be massive. But you'd be wrong. Females are no larger than 2 centimeters (less than an inch) in body size and males are five times smaller.
This toothy leech was discovered in the nose of a young girl in Peru. Known as Tyrannobdella rex, meaning "tyrant leech king," this blood sucker is found in the remote regions of the Upper Amazon in Peru. Although the leech is less than two inches in length, it has what its discoverers have called "enormous teeth" in a single jaw. The earliest member of this family of leeches lived about 200 million years ago, around the time of the dinosaurs. So it's entirely possible that this leech's ancestor spent its time up the nose of a Tyrannosaurus rex. There are some 700 known species of leeches worldwide.
How could this brightly colored, six-foot-long lizard go unnoticed for so long? Although the Northern Sierra Madre Forest Monitor Lizard (Varanus bitatawa is easy enough to spot in this photo, this animal managed to evade notice due to the fact that it rarely leaves the trees in which it resides in the forests of the Philippines. Unlike its Komodo dragon relative, this lizard is primarily a vegetarian, living on fruit, figs, nuts and the occasional snail. This lizard is the only reptile to make the top 10.
Courtesy of Mike Picker
If you think this insect looks like a cross between a cockroach and a grasshopper, you wouldn't be far off. This leaproach (Altoblattella montistabularis) is a new type of cockroach with modified rear legs that gives it jumping ability on par with a grasshopper. Although jumping cockroaches existed during the Late Jurassic, they had previously not been found in the modern age.
© Robert Coffan
This gilled mushroom was observed staying submerged for over 11 week in the upper Rogue River in Oregon. This fungus, Psathyrella aquatica, is the first known mushroom species found fruiting underwater.
Drawing courtesy of Yann Le Bris
First found at a bushmeat market in West Africa, this new antelope surprised scientists because it belonged to a well studied group of animals. This new species (Philantomba walteri) may have first been collected in 1968 in Badou, Togo, by its namesake, Walter N. Verheyen, an African mammals researcher. The antelope is the only mammal on the top 10 list.
Courtesy of RMS Titanic Inc.
This unique species of rust-loving bacteria was found on the sunken remains of the RMS Titanic, seen here located 12,600 below the surface. The bacteria eat iron-oxide and they're not doing the remains of the Titanic any favors: The microbes stick to metal surfaces and creates knob-like mounds that eat away at the Titanic.