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Biodiversity rules. To date, scientists have discovered, catalogued and named around 1.5 million species on our humble little planet. How many are there left to discover? This is actually a hotly debated topic amongst scientists; they can't even come up with a rough estimate: Some think there's about 8 million, others speculate there might be as many as 100 million undiscovered species swimming, flying, and squirming around our planet.
Whatever the actual number turns out to be, since scientists discover anywhere between 15,000 - 20,000 new ones each year, we can all agree that we've still got lots of discovering left to do!
In this episode of DNews, Matt and Trace discuss their picks for the six weirdest animals discovered this year, and weird might be kind of an understatement for some of these bizarre critters. For example:
- The Hoosier cavefish: which has an anus directly behind its head
- The male black-tailed antechinus: an Australia marsupial whose males literally mate until they die of stress or exhaustion.
- One of several species of carnivorous sponges (!?). Eek. [Insert SpongeBob joke here].
For more of the Best of 2014, check out Life Noggin's 2014 in review and FW. Thinking's 3 biggest scientific innovations of 2014
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Hoosier cavefish: New species from caves of southern Indiana has an anus right behind its head (via Science Daily)
"A new eyeless cavefish is described from Indiana and named after the Indiana Hoosiers. It is the first new cavefish species described from the US in 40 years. Notably, it has an anus right behind its head, and the females brood their young in their gill chamber."
New Species of Mammal Is a Sex Fiend (via Live Science)
"A newly discovered pink-nosed rodentlike marsupial gives its all for sex - really. Males of the species mate so intensely that they die before their young are born."
New Deep-Sea Animal Species Look Like Mushrooms but Defy Classification
(via National Geographic)
"A handful of strange mushroom-shaped animals discovered in the deep sea off Australia in the 1980s have finally been named by scientists. The organisms are so unique that they may rearrange the earliest branches of the animal family tree."
Four new species of ‘killer sponges' from the deap sea (via Science Daily)
"Killer sponges sound like creatures from a B-grade horror movie. In fact, they thrive in the lightless depths of the deep sea."
Newly discovered insect ‘Supersonus' hits animal kingdom's highest pitch love call (via Science Daily)
"In the rainforests of South America, scientists have discovered a new genus and three new species of insect with the highest ultrasonic calling songs ever recorded in the animal kingdom."
Big City, Big Surprise: New York City's Newest Species Is a Frog
(via National Geographic)
"The newfound leopard frog (Rana kauffeldi) lives in open-canopied coastal marshes and bottomland floodplains within a few miles of river mouths."