The giant tortoises of the Galapagos might all look similar, but the ones found in the eastern part of the island are actually a new species. There are only about 250 of them left. So this discovery has immediate conservation implications. The new species is called Chelonoidis donfaustoi in honor of a park ranger, Don Fausto, who worked for four decades to conserve them.
Giant Sundew (Drosera magnifica)
Here’s to social media. This giant sundew is believed to be the first plant species discovered through photos posted on Facebook. Drosera magnifica, as this plant is called, is massive: at 48 inches, the largest sundew ever seen. So why’d it take so long to find it? It exists only at the summit of a single mountain in Brazil, 5,000 feet above sea level.
Seadragon (Phyllopteryx dewysea)
This beauty is ruby red with pink vertical bars. And its discovery off the coast of Western Australia is a big deal because this is now only the third known species of seadragons. As scientists point out, if ruby red dragons that live in shallow waters and are nearly a foot long have only now been discovered, what else don’t we know?
Tiny beetle (Phytotelmatrichis osopaddington)
This tiny beetle is named Phytotelmatrichis osopaddington, after Paddington Bear. Scientists hope that just like in the kids’ books about the lovable bear, people will look after this beetle. It’s really small. You’d have to line up 25 of them before you’d reach the one-inch mark on a yardstick. This species was discovered in Peru, making its home in the pools of water that collect in the hollows of plants, such as tree holes.
New primate (Pliobates cataloniae)
This small ape found in a landfill in Catalonia raises a big, interesting possibility: Could we be more closely related to gibbons than great apes? Her discoverers named her “Laia” after “Eullia,” original patron saint of Barcelona. She lived about 11.6 million years ago, and she appears to be related to humans, apes and gibbons.
Flowering tree (Sirdavidia solannona)
If we needed more examples of how species are just waiting to be discovered under our very noses, this is Exhibit A. This new tree species was found just feet from the main road at Monts de Cristal National Park in Gabon. But it probably eluded discovery because scientists focused on larger trees. The Sirdavidia solannona is less 20 feet high, with a diameter of just 4 inches.
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Sixty new species of dragonflies and damselflies were reported in one single publication; that’s the most for any single paper in more than 100 years. We love the name scientists gave this discovery: Umma gumma. (You don’t have to be a Pink Floyd fan to get that).