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2020 was the year of discovering, and naming new species4 min read

January 5, 2021 4 min read


2020 was the year of discovering, and naming new species4 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Bard of Avon, Shakespeare, once asked, “What’s in a name?” Well, ask the 503 new species who got named in 2020, some after a century of being discovered! London’s Natural History Musuem undertook the mammoth task of naming 503 new species through the year of the pandemic from its vast collection.

Naming a new species requires research on the organism and how it is different from the others. This research further needs to be approved by experts. The head of life sciences at the Natural History Museum, Ken Norris, said,

You’re asking whether or not that new specimen is sufficiently different from anything else that’s been seen before to be regarded as a new species. So you’re describing it for the first time.

Sourced from CNN

As of today, only 20% of the species of the world are known to humans. And this research has brought us closer to knowing more members of our amazing planet!

A dozen new reptiles— two frogs, nine snakes, and a lizard— have been described this year. Popa Langur, a langur found on the slopes of an extinct volcano in Myanmar has also made it to the list (read Owliver’s special feature on this langur named after Mount Popa, here). Lungless worm salamander, an amphibian that breathes through its skin, was also added to the list. With 170 new species named, beatles occupied the largest part of the list.

70 new species of bees and wasps have also been named. And one of them holds a record! The Bombus Tibeticus lives on the Tibetan Plateau in Mongolia which is 5,640 meters above sea level. This is the highest a bumblebee has ever been spotted!
51 species of snails, nine species of moths, and one butterfly have also made it to the list.

Painting by Peter Schouten

Apart from extant species (species who are still alive), researchers also described 122 new fossil species (species that are now extinct). One such discovery included the marsupial Mukupirna Nambensis. This giant marsupial, who lived 25 million years ago, was the size of a black bear.

Owliver’s Obscure Observations:
What are marsupials?
Marsupials are mammals who are born less than fully developed such that they are typically carried and suckled in a pouch on the
mother’s belly.
Can you think of other marsupials?
Head on over to this article to learn something fascinating about one extant marsupial.

The Curious Case of Bolivian Andes

20 new species have been found in the Zongo Valley in Bolivian Andes! The 17-day long expedition resulted in the discovery of the venomous viper named ‘mountain fer-de-lance’, and the smallest amphibian in the world named lilliputian frog that is merely 1 centimeter long, among others.

What is striking about this expedition is that the team has rediscovered 4 species believed to be extinct.
These include the devil-eyed frog spotted 2 decades ago and the satyr butterfly that was last seen 98 years ago!

The great thing about discovery and naming these distinct species is that it helps researchers to work towards creating desirable environments for their conservation. The Zongo Valley is one such habitat! Perhaps, we will find ways to sustain more in 2021. How’s that for a resolution?!

Before you go, Owliver has a puzzle for you—
Find the new species lurking in the jigsaw and match the image with the description from the article. Let Owliver know what you found in the comments section, below!

Sourced from CNN.