Last year scientists discovered a range of new species, from a glow-in-the-dark cockroach, to a harp-shaped carnivorous sponge and the smallest vertebrate yet discovered on the planet.
In reviewing the various new species highlighted by scientists, the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University has selected the top ten new discoveries found during the past twelve months. Members of the international committee made their top 10 selection from more than 140 nominated species.
The top ten are:
1. Lilliputian Violet: Viola lilliputana Country: Peru
The Lilliputian violet is among the smallest violets in the world. It is known only from a single locality in an Intermontane Plateau of the high Andes of Peru, found in the dry puna grassland eco-region. The entire above ground portion of the plant is barely 1 centimeter tall. It was named after the island of Lilliput in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
2. Lyre Sponge Chondrocladia lyra Country: NE Pacific Ocean; USA: California
This is a large, harp- or lyre-shaped carnivorous sponge discovered in deep water (averaging 3,399 meters) from the northeast Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.
3. Lesula Monkey Cercopithecus lomamiensis Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo
This monkey was discovered in the Lomami Basin of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is only the second species of monkey discovered in Africa in the past 28 years. Adult males have a large, bare patch of skin on the buttocks, testicles and perineum that is colored a brilliant blue.
4. Snake Sibon noalamina Country: Panama
A snail-eating snake, found in the highland rainforests of western Panama. The snake is nocturnal and hunts soft-bodied prey including earthworms and amphibian eggs.
5. Fungus found on Paleolithic Art Country: France
In 2001, black stains began to appear on the walls of Lascaux Cave in France. In 2012, the fungus was characterized as Ochroconis anomala. It is a black staining fungus, associated with the decomposition of plant matter.
6. World's Smallest Vertebrate Paedophryne amanuensis Country: New Guinea
This is a tiny frog, as small as 7 millimeters, discovered near Amau village in Papua, New Guinea.
7. Endangered shrub Eugenia petrikensis Country: Madagascar
Eugenia is a large, worldwide genus of woody evergreen trees and shrubs of the myrtle family that is particularly diverse in South America, New Caledonia and Madagascar. The new species E. petrikensis is a shrub growing to two meters with emerald green, slightly glossy foliage and beautiful, dense clusters of small magenta flowers.
8. Glow-in-the dark cockroach Lucihormetica luckae Country: Ecuador
Glow-in-the-dark cockroaches are rare, and interestingly, so far found only in remote areas far from light pollution. The latest addition to this growing list is L. luckae.
9. Butterfly Semachrysa jade Country: Malaysia
The new butterfly is a beautiful green lacewing with dark markings at the base of its wings in a park near Kuala Lumpur.
10. Interesting fossil Juracimbrophlebia ginkgofolia Country: China
A new fossil species, Juracimbrophlebia ginkgofolia, has been found along with preserved leaves of a gingko-like tree, Yimaia capituliformis, in Middle Jurassic deposits in the Jiulongshan Formation in China's Inner Mongolia.
Commenting on the list, Quentin Wheeler, founding director of the International Institute for Species Exploration at ASU, said: “All of our hopes and dreams for conservation hinge upon saving millions of species that we cannot recognize and know nothing about. No investment makes more sense than completing a simple inventory to the establish baseline data that tells us what kinds of plants and animals exist and where. Until we know what species already exist, it is folly to expect we will make the right decisions to assure the best possible outcome for the pending biodiversity crisis."
Images of the new species can bee seen on a Daily Telegraph webpage.