Each year, the International Institute for Species Exploration, an organisation affiliated with the Arizona State University, publishes a list with the latest animal and plant species discoveries, awarding the 10 most spectacular species.
The institute specialises in taxonomy (the science of classifying species) and advocates for their protection. Research in this area is far from concluded: “ We estimate that from 1758, we ranked less than 20% of all species of plants, animals and bacteria living on Earth, » said Quentin Wheeler, an entomologist who leads the institute.
The objectives of this classification, existing for now five years, are twofold: to draw our attention to the current crisis of biodiversity and recognise the work done each year by many laboratories and museums to discover and describe new species. The date of the 23rd of May to release the winner list was not chosen randomly, it is the anniversary of the birth of Carolus Linnaeus, the famous Swedish botanist at the origin of the first classification of living organisms in the 1740’s.
Every year more than 18000 species of plant, animal and microbes are officially described and among them, some extraordinary and bizarre specimens.
This year, the top 10 species discovered in 2011 included:
- The orchid blooming at night. There are nearly 25,000 species of orchids and of these, the Bulbophyllum nocturnum, discovered in New Guinea, would be the only one blooming at night.
- The monkey without a nose. Discovered in the mountains of Myanmar, the Rhinopithecus strykeri or Sneezing Monkey is without a nose. Considerably inconvenient when it rains because it causes sneezing.
- The sausage millipede. Discovered in Tanzania, the Crurifarcimen vagans or Wandering Leg Sausage holds a new record as the largest millipede (16 cm long and 1.5 cm in diameter) in the world.
To find out more about these incredible species, check the IISE/ASU website: http://species.asu.edu/Top10