Weird and wonderful: top ten new species announced

Posted by Staff writer

A deep-sea worm that fires luminous bombs and a snigger-worthy fungus are among the top ten new species for 2009 picked by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and an international committee of taxonomists.

Swima bombiviridis is a worm discovered off the California coast that when threatened releases 'bombs' which light up for several
seconds with green bioluminescence.

The two-inch mushroom – Phallus drewesii – was clearly included for a laugh. It was named, says the judges, in honor of Robert C Drewes at the California Academy of Sciences - and with his permission.

Also on the list are a minnow with fangs and the largest-known golden orb spider, which also builds the biggest webs of any spider. There's a carnivorous deep-sea sponge and a sea slug that eats bugs.

Several fish made this year's top 10, including a frogfish – Histiophryne psychedelica – that has an unusual psychedelic pattern, and a new electric fish.

A new carnivorous plant species produces one of the largest pitchers known, each the size of an American football. And a species of edible yam is unusual for producing several tubers instead of just one.

"Charting the species of the world and their unique attributes are essential parts of understanding the history of life. It is in our own self-interest as we face the challenges of living on a rapidly changing planet," says Quentin Wheeler of Arizona State University.

"Most people do not realize just how incomplete our knowledge of Earth's species is or the steady rate at which taxonomists are
exploring that diversity. We are surrounded by such an exuberance of species diversity that we too often take it for granted."

There's more detail, here.