With everything going on in 2020, at least there was some positive news in the science world as scientists from the Natural History Museum identified a total of 503 new species. These new species included a wide range of life such as wasps, miniature tarantulas, a monkey, large wombat-like marsupial, praying mantis, lichen, and even minerals.
Dr. Tim Littlewood, who is the Executive Director of Science at the Museum, stated, “Once again, an end of year tally of new species has revealed a remarkable diversity of life forms and minerals hitherto undescribed.” Now, let’s take a quick look at some of the species.
A new species of monkey, called the Popa langur (or Trachypithecus popa) was discovered living on the side of an extinct volcano located in Myanmar. There are only between 200 and 260 of them remaining in the wild but by giving them an official name, it will hopefully help to protect them.
As for reptiles and amphibians, a crested lizard from Borneo was found as well as two new frog species. A total of nine new snakes were identified which included a bright green pit viper (called Trimeresurus davidi) in the Nicobar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, and a new type of natricine snake called Smithophis arunachalensis from India that has yellow and black zig-zag patterns.
A lungless worm salamander named Oedipina ecuatoriana that breathes through its skin was found in South America in addition to a whopping 170 new species of beetles that were found in New Guinea, Brazil, and Malawi. A total of 70 new wasps, 51 snails, 10 bryozoans (moss animals), 9 flatworms, 9 moths, 6 centipedes, 3 bees, 2 miniature tarantulas, 1 butterfly, and 1 parasitic worm were also identified.
They even found ten new minerals from several different locations around the globe that included California, Greece, United Kingdom, Russia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. One of these was an emerald-green mineral called Kernowite.
Other discoveries include 10 ciliates, 4 diatoms, 3 plants, 3 red seaweeds, and 1 lichen.
And it wasn’t just living things that the scientists identified as they also described 122 fossil species that lived millions of years ago. Several of these species were barnacles or crinoids, while another included a tiny spider that was trapped in amber that lived during the same time as dinosaurs. An armored “slug” shell-bearing creature called Armilimax pauljamisoni was found in Utah rocks that dated back between 541 and 485 million years ago.
The biggest species identified in 2020 was a large wombat-like marsupial called Mukupirna nambensis that was unearthed in Australia. It grew as big as a black bear and lived approximately 25 million years ago.
Several pictures of some of these newly identified species can be seen here.