Top 10 new species list unveiled

May 23, 2012 at 8:11 PM
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PHOENIX, May 23 (UPI) -- A sneezing monkey and a fungus named for a popular TV cartoon character are on a list of the top 10 new species described in 2011, U.S. researchers say.

A beautiful but venomous jellyfish, a night-blooming orchid and an ancient walking cactus creature are also on the list released Wednesday by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University.

"The top 10 is intended to bring attention to the biodiversity crisis and the unsung species explorers and museums who continue a 250-year tradition of discovering and describing the millions of kinds of plants, animals and microbes with whom we share this planet," Quentin Wheeler, an entomologist who directs the institute, said in an ASU release.

An international committee made their selection from more than 200 nominations of "species that capture our attention because they are unusual or because they have traits that are bizarre," said Mary Liz Jameson of Wichita State University, who headed the committee.

"Some of the new species have interesting names; some highlight what little we really know about our planet," she said.

A new fungus species looking more like a sponge than a typical mushroom has been named Spongiforma squarepantsii, after the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants.

A monkey found in the high mountains of Myanmar, Rhinopithecus stryker, is distinctive for its mostly black fur and white beard and for sneezing when it rains.

A strikingly beautiful yet venomous jellyfish has been named Tamoya ohboya, a name selected by a teacher as part of a citizen science project who assumed that people who are stung exclaim "Oh boy!"

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