New Species Discovered in 2016: Weird, Wild, and Just Plain Wacky

December 28, 2016 | Maggie Romuld

peacock spider
Photo credit: Jean and Fred/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

In a year that saw hundreds of new species discovered, how does one pick the top 10?

How does one choose between a walking catfish, a gray-haired "grandfather" bee fly, or a millipede with four penises?

In an effort to be fair to entomologistsherpetologistscetologists, and mammalogists around the world, here is a list, in no particular order, of just a few of the exciting new species discovered in 2016. This list could be much, much longer.

1.    Scientists identified a rare new species of beaked whale that inhabits the waters from northern Japan all the way across the Pacific Ocean to Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

2.    Scientists discovered two new types of ants in the rainforests of New Guinea thanks to an advanced X-ray imaging technique. The new ant species were named after Game of Thrones dragons, Viserion and Drogon.

3.    Researchers working in Mexico discovered and named three new species of miniaturized tropical salamanders—and they are already endangered.

4.    Twenty-eight unique mammal species were discovered on a heavily deforested Philippine island. “Cloud rats” and “earthworm mice” are found nowhere else in the world.

5.    Peacock spiders are tiny, spectacularly colored, and know how to dance. These attributes have made these arachnids, which are native to Australia, immensely popular among spider enthusiasts and arachnophobes alike. In 2016, seven new species of dancing peacock spiders were found.

6.    A Texas A&M University team discovered three new bird species in Africa, and the team leader said “there could well be more.”

7.    A crab from a Chinese pet market turned out to be a new species of a new genus. The crab superficially resembled an already well-known freshwater crab, but a unique set of features set it apart.

8.    Sometimes, scientific discoveries can be made in the most unexpected places. Such is the case for a team of scientists in Ecuador, who discovered a new species of ant in the vomit of a little devil frog (Oophaga sylvatica).

9.    A new species of extremely leggy millipede was discovered in Sequoia National Park. The new species has some bizarre anatomical features, including a body armed with 200 poison glands, silk-secreting hairs, and four penises.

10. On a survey of the Pacific Ocean seabed, an unmanned NOAA probe accidentally discovered a ghostly new species of octopus at a depth of 4.3 kilometers (2.6 miles). It has been nicknamed “Casper.”

You might also be interested in: The 10 Most Mind-Blowing Scientific Discoveries of 2016

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