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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Top ten new species for 2010

Arizona State University’s International Institute for Species Exploration and a committee of international taxonomists have selected their picks for the top 10 new species described in 2010. The list was made public on May 23, the birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, the father of modern taxidermy.

Taxonomists are classifiers, or groupers. They figure out how each organism is connected to every other organism on Earth. Part of that process involves identifying and sorting newly discovered species. By some estimates, as many as 10 million species remain unknown to science, although thousands are discovered each year. The top ten list is an effort to bring attention to Earth’s biodiversity and to support the study and public display of natural history.

Among other organisms, the list contains a spider that spins the largest webs yet known with silk that’s ten times stronger than kevlar, a bioluminescent mushroom, an iron-eating bacteria found on the wreck of the Titanic, a fanged leech and the Louisiana Pancake Batfish, pictured below.

An image of Halieutichthys intermedius taken by one of its discoverers, Prosanta Chakrabarty.

Here’s the full list with pictures and descriptions of why each species was selected.

If you’d like to nominate your favorite species for next year, you can do so here. But remember, to qualify, the species must have been officially described for the first time in 2011.