Top 10 new species discoveries named

May 23, 2011 at 8:14 PM
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TEMPE, Ariz., May 23 (UPI) -- An international committee of taxonomists, collaborating with Arizona State University, has announced its choices for the top 10 new species described in 2010.

The taxonomists -- scientists responsible for species identification and classification -- and the International Institute for Species Exploration at ASU, made the announcement Monday to coincide with the anniversary of the birth of Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who was responsible for the modern system of plant and animal names and classifications, an ASU release reported.

This year's top 10 new species include a leech with enormous teeth, a rust-consuming bacterium discovered on the sunken RMS Titanic, a batfish flat as a pancake that appears to hop in the water, and fungi that emit bright yellowish-green light.

Also making the list was a jumping cockroach, a 6-foot long fruit-eating lizard, and a spider named for Charles Darwin that builds orb-shaped webs large enough to span rivers and lakes.

The species on the list come from around the world -- including Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar, the North Atlantic Ocean, Oregon, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa and West Africa -- the ASU release said.

"We can only realistically aspire to sustainable biodiversity if we first learn what species exist to begin with," said Quentin Wheeler, the director of the ASU species institute. "A reasonable estimate is that 10 million species remain to be described, named, and classified before the diversity and complexity of the biosphere is understood."

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