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The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University recently released its top 10 list of newly discovered species, bringing together a fascinating collection of weird (a football-shaped, rat-eating plant), trippy (a psychedelic creature of the deep sea) and sexual innuendo (a modestly endowed, foul-smelling fungus).
We Want An Attenborough’s Pitcher, Not A Belly Itcher
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With a name that evokes images of the game of baseball, the newly discovered plant named the Attenborough’s pitcher is actually similar to a football in shape and size. Discovered on the island of Palawan in the Philippines, this plant uses fluids in its long pitcher to trap insects and rats, and then eat them.
Bombardier Worms: Mean, Green Bombers
(Images via: KeSimpulan, Scientific Computing)
Discovered in the deep seas off the coast of California, the bombardier worm is also known as the “green bomber.” When having to protect themselves, mature and juvenile bombardier worms will detach modified, illuminating gills (see top images) that scare off potential predators and thus give these swimming worms their cool names.
Don’t Be Such A Bug-Eating Slug All of Your Life
(Image via: BM Factory)
As its name suggests, this slug eats bugs. What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, when considering that all other slugs eat algae, this insect-eating slug discovered on the Gulf of Thailand is certainly unique, as evident by the fact that it was categorized into its own family of slugs.
Straight Out of Transylvania: The Dracula Minnow
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I’m not sure I’ll be using the Dracula minnow any time soon when fishing for bigger keepers. With its unique tooth-like fangs, the Dracula minnow is certainly a bit intimidating upon a up-close view; however, these fangs are not used to suck blood but rather to spar with other males.
Killer Sponges: Soaking ‘Em Softly
(Image via: National Geographic)
Discovered last year in deep sea waters off of New Zealand, the killer sponge was more than sponge worthy when getting named to the top list of new species. Unlike other softer sponge species, the killer sponge stands out with its spiky skeleton-like structure. While looking relatively harmless to the eye, this sponge is carnivorous and more dangerous than it appears.
Omars’ Banded Knifefish: Not What It Appeared to Be
(Images via: National Geographic, Seriously Fish, Wild Tropical Animal)
For more than 30 years, researchers in Uruguay have been using this electric fish (see top image) to understand electrocommunicaton. However, after comparing this fish with other members of the Gymnotidae family (see other images), it turned out that Omars’ banded knifefish was actually its own unique species that had been misidentified the entire time. Oops! Talk about flushing 30 years of research down the drain.
Psychedelic Frogfish: “I’m Freaking Out Man!”
(Images via: NewScientist, Daily Kos, Somethin Ordinary)
Discovered in Indonesia, Histiophryne psychedelica (what’s more commonly known as the psychedelic frogfish) is not only unique for displaying a trippy pattern of concentric rings that cover its entire body, but having a flat face. I don’t know about you, but the psychedelic frogfish certainly would have worked over its fair share of Hippies back in the day.
Coming Soon to IKEA: The Uber Orb-Weaver
(Images via: Scientific Computing, Earth Times, Telegraph)
What the heck is an uber-orb weaver? It’s actually a spider (with the common name of Komac’s golden orb spider) that is part of the Nephilidae family, which is known for spinning some of the largest webs around. Recently discovered in South Africa, the uber orb-weaver (also known as Nephila komaci) is especially interesting in that females have body lengths that are 5 times longer than those of males.
Can You Do Me A Small Favor?
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No, I’m not talking about borrowing some money but rather learning about a new stinkhorn fungus recently found in an isolated West African island country. Also known as Phallus drewesil, this two-inch mushroom is characterized by not only its sexually-suggestive shape but a foul odor that attracts flies to spread its spores.
Udderly Weird Yam: A Name That Doesn’t Disappoint
(Image via: Claude Marcel Hladik )
Discovered in Madagascar, the udderly weird yam is in fact edible, thought it’s not likely to be on my Thanksgiving dinner table any time soon due to its gross look and critically endangered status. For more on the udderly weird yam and the other top new species, visit the ASU International Institute for Species Exploration.