13 Most Bizarre Newly Discovered Species

For the past twenty years, Conservation International has been studying the least-known wildernesses on Earth, leading to many remarkable discoveries -- including over 1,300 new species. These achievements are highlighted in the new book Still Counting...by Leanne Alonso.

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    Yodabat Fitted

    RAP Launched in 1990, the idea behind the creation of CI’s Rapid Assessment Program was to build a team of the best field biologists from different disciplines, and create what CI founder, CEO, and Chairman Peter Seligmann described in the foreword to the book as “An ecological SWAT team that could accurately assess the health of an ecosystem in a fraction of the time it would normally take”. RAP’s pioneering team of four included legendary field biologists Ted Parker and Al Gentry, who tragically lost their lives several years later during a field accident, but left an enduring scientific legacy that lives on today.
    Piotr Naskrecki
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    Atewa dinospider (Ricinoides atewa) This ancient arachnid was found during a 2006 expedition to Ghana’s Atewa Range Forest Reserve (Atewa) led by Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) This strange little creature looks like a cross between a spider and a crab, and males have their reproductive organs on their legs. They are considered quite rare, with only 57 other species known from this group throughout the world.
    Piotr Naskrecki
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    Dinospider 2

    Atewa dinospider (Ricinoides atewa) This strange little creature looks like a cross between a spider and a crab, and males have their reproductive organs on their legs. They are considered quite rare, with only 57 other It belongs to a lineage of animals that have remained virtually unchanged since the Carboniferous, over 300 million years ago. Currently, they are found only in Central and South America, and West Africa. This new species is part of the complex cycle of circulating organic matter in the ecosystem – they feed on termites and ant larvae. It is the largest living member of this group of animals (11 mm long). "species known from this group throughout the world.
    Piotr Naskrecki
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    Electric Fish

    The "electric" fish (Paracheilinus nursalim) Discovered on a Conservation International Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition in west Papua Indonesia in 2006 - The FakFak/Kaimana RAP The males go through an amazing courtship ritual in which "electric" colours are flashed periodically to attract nearby females. The courtship dance takes place every afternoon, beginning about one hour before sundown and continuing until dusk. The modified mouth and lips allow the fish to feed, breathe, and attach to the substrate through suction; Parental care is usually well-developed and the male guards the eggs and sometimes the larvae.
    Gerry Allen
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    Pinocchio Frog

    The Pinocchio frog (Litoria sp. nov.) Discovered on a Conservation International Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition to the Foja Mountains of Papua province, Indonesia in 2008. The frog has a long, Pinocchio-like protuberance on its nose that points upwards when the male is calling but deflates and points downwards when he is less active, represents a particularly distinctive find that scientists are interested in documenting and studying further. Its discovery was a happy accident, after herpetologist Paul Oliver spotted it sitting on a bag of rice in the campsite.
    Tim Laman
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    Pinocchio Frog

    The Pinocchio frog (Litoria sp. nov.) The abundance and diversity of amphibians are indicators of an ecosystem's general health. Amphibians are often referred to as "the canary in the coal mine" (this is definitely an overplayed reference, but nonetheless true and important) - amphibians have permeable skin meaning that they all too easily absorb toxins or pollutants to which they are exposed, making them some of the first species to disappear from ecosystems declining in health. Their disappearance can be used as an early warning sign that something bad is happening to a given environment - including environments humans inhabit.
    Tim Laman
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    Katydid 2

    The RAP katydid (Brachyamytta rapidoaestima) Discovered on a Conservation International Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) survey in Ghana and Guinea. This newly discovered species is a sit-and-wait predator, hiding on the underside of leaves, and attacking small insects that make the mistake of landing on the leaf. Males communicate with the females by producing ultrasonic songs that are inaudible to humans. It was named after the RAP program because it was first discovered during a survey in 2002 and it lives in the most threatened habitats of West Africa that the RAP program is trying to save.
    Piotr Naskrecki
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    The RAP katydid (Brachyamytta rapidoaestima) They are part of the complex cycle of circulating organic matter in the ecosystem – Predator of small herbivorous insects.
    Piotr Naskrecki
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    Chinchilla Tree Rat 2

    Chinchilla tree rat (Cuscomys ashaninka) This species discovery was made during one of a number of expeditions that were carried out between 1997 and 1998. They were led by Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program and the Smithsonian’s Monitoring and Assessment of Biodiversity Program, formally known as the Man and the Biosphere Program. The discovery was made by Dr. Louise Emmons, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
    Louise Emmons
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    Chinchilla Tree Rat

    Chinchilla tree rat (Cuscomys ashaninka)  The chinchilla tree rat was discovered in the Vilcabamba mountain range, very close to the world famous ruins of Macchu Picchu. It is pale grey in color, possesses a stocky build, has large claws, and is characterized by a white stripe along its head. It is related to the chinchilla rats which are known to have been buried alongside the Incan people in their tombs. The fact that this is a new genus (i.e. a group of individuals that have similar characteristics) made the discovery even more exciting, as it suggests there could be many more similar species just waiting to be uncovered.
    Louise Emmons
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    The blattodean (Simandoa conserfariam) These interesting insects are known from a single cave in Guinea's Simandoa Range, where we discovered them in 2002. They feed on guano of giant fruit bats that inhabit the cave, and help recycle and and re-release the nutrients trapped in it.
    Piotr Naskrecki
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    "Yodabat" -- tube-nosed fruit bat This Tube-nosed Fruit Bat Nyctimene sp. from the Muller Range mountains does not yet have a name but has been found in other parts of New Guinea. It is likely restricted (endemic) to hill forests on the island. Fruit bats are important seed dispersers in tropical forests.
    Piotr Naskrecki
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    Yodabat 2

    Piotr Naskrecki
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    Large tree frog Approximately six inches/15 cm, with enormous eyes was found next to a clear running mountain river during a Conservation International (CI) led Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition of Papua New Guinea’s highlands wilderness in 2008. It belongs to a group of frogs with an unusual vein-like pattern on the eyelid and its tadpoles have enormous sucker-like mouths that allow them to graze on exposed rocks in torrential stream environments.
    Stephen Richards/Conservation International
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    Walking Shark

    Walking shark (Hemiscyllium galei) Discovered on a Conservation International Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition in Cenderawasih Bay, Indonesia in 2006. Don’t be fooled by its name, this shark can swim! However, it prefers to walk along the shallow reef flats on its fins, preying on shrimp, crabs, snails, and small fish. They emerge above the reef, show off their grandeur with lateral displays and just as quickly dive back into their coral lairs.
    Gerald Allen
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    Suckermouth catfish (Pseudancistrus kwinti) This catfish was uncovered during a a Conservation International Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) survey in Suriname. 2005. RAP ichthyologists named the new species Pseudancistrus kwinti after the indigenous Kwinti people who live along the lower reaches of the Coppename River. The suckermouth exhibited by these catfish allow them to adhere to objects in their habitats, even in fast-flowing waters. The mouth and teeth also are adapted to feed on a variety of foods such as algae, invertebrates, and detritus, the fish rotates its lower and upper jaws to scrape the substrate to eat algae etc.
    Phil Willink
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    Smokey honeyeater The honeyeater was discovered at an altitude of 1,650 m (5,445 feet) above sea level, in the Foja Mountains of Western New Guinea. This medium-sized, sooty-gray songbird has a short black bill, and each eye is surrounded by an orange-red patch of bare skin, below which hangs a pendant wattle. It is these features that distinguish it from the more widespread Common Smoky Honeyeater.
    Bruce Beeler
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    Honeyeater 2

    Smokey honeyeater In addition, the species is exceedingly quiet, rarely giving any vocalizations. The Wattled smoky honeyeater is a common and unwary inhabitant of the Foja uplands. The Honeyeater eats nectar and thus pollinates flowers, it also eats insects and thus helps to regulate their populations, food for larger animals
    Bruce Beeler
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    ET Salamander

    ET salamander (Bolitoglossa sp. nov) This genus of salamanders has fully webbed feet which help them climb high into the canopy of tropical forests; they also have no lungs and breathe instead through their skin. This new species was found in the wet forests of the tepuis in southern Ecuador.
    Jessica Deichmann
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