Man has set ambitions to colonize Mars, is proud to have measured the depth of the oceans, but is thrilled and always surprised about new lifeforms that get discovered each year. Nature never fails to shock us with some lifeforms that earlier generations of humans never knew of.
Compiled here are 15 new animal species that were discovered in 2015:
1. World’s tiniest snail
At first sight, one fails to even register that this tiny speck is an living snail. To demonstrate its small size, animal biologists compared it with the head of a matchstick. This specimen, found in Borneo, has been named Acmella nanananus, meaning ‘dwarf’ in Latin.
2. Hog-nosed rat
A pig nose on a rat is not limited to cartoons; researchers stumbled upon this strange rodent in Indonesia. This new rat species (Hyorhinomys stuempkei) has big ears, and a pink nose with nostrils that face forward.
3. Alien bat
This other-worldly looking bat (Rhinolophus francisi) was first spotted in 1983, but oddly no sightings were ever reported after that, until two years ago. Francis’ Woolly Horseshoe Bat is named after Charles Francis’, the researcher who first sighted this bat. The peculiar feature about this species is the face, which looks like a horseshoe.
4. New firefly
Undergraduate student Joshua Oliva found this new firefly 2015. Only half a centimeter long and black in color, it has an orange pattern that looks like a halo on the head.
5. African dragonflies
Not one but 60 new types of dragonflies were found in 2015. This one was discovered in Gabon, Africa and given the scientific name Africocypha varicolor. Some of the newly discovered dragonflies have very striking colors.
6. Toothed frogs
This new frog species with small tooth-like tusks in the lower jaw was discovered last year in West Africa. Researchers found 4 four new species that they had mistaken to be one.
7. LA pill bug
This strange looking bug was discovered by a group of college students at a seaside park in Los Angeles. Named exosphaeroma pentcheffi, you just cannot miss the peg like protrusion on its back and a unique tail-like uropod, which is part of the tail fan.
8. Shape-shifting frog
To survive being preyed upon, this new frog specie can actually change its texture in minutes. Found in a reserve park in Ecuador, this frog, like a chameleon, when in danger, can smartly camouflage its exteriors. Its skin goes from spiny to a smooth, light-colored texture.
9. An anglerfish
Three specimens of this anglerfish were discovered in 2015. Found in the Gulf of Mexico, the lasiognathus regan has a fishing rod like barbel that can also produce light.
10. South American dwarf dragons
Three new species of dwarf dragons were discovered in Ecuador and Peru in 2015. Not the mythical fire-spitting dragons, these ones belong to the humble family of wood lizards. They have been named Alto Tambo wood lizard (Enyalioides altotambo), rough-scaled wood lizard (E. anisolepis), and Rothschild’s wood lizard (E. sophiarothschildae).
11. The ninja lanternshark
This jet-black new species of sharks lives a mile below the ocean surface and can grow to 1.5 feet in length. They were discovered off the continental shelf of Central America, in the Pacific. Named etmopterus benchley, this daredevil fish species can actually glow in the dark.
12. New Giant Tortoise
Scientists were convinced that all the giant tortoise at Santa Cruz on the Galapagos Islands were from the same species. To their surprise, in 2015, the found there were two separate species with different genetic make up. The new species has been named Cerro Fatal giant tortoise (Chelonoidis donfaustoi).
13. Skeletorus and Sparklemuffin
It was Madeline Girard, a graduate student, who discovered two new species of peacock spiders in Australia. She named them skeletorus (maratus sceletus) and sparklemuffin (maratus jactatus). Peacock spiders are known to have intricate courtship dances, which remain a mystery for scientists.
14. Ruby Seadragon
This is the third new species of seadragons discovered. Seadragons look like seahorses but have peculiar appendages, which make them unique. Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California discovered this bright red ruby seadragon (phyllopteryx dewysea).
15. Dracula ants
Six new species of dracula ants were found in Madagascar and Seychelles in 2015. They are named ‘Dracula’ because they feed on the blood of their young.