New and Blue
Every year, approximately 18,000 new species are discovered. That means scientists worldwide are coming upon up to 50 new species every day.
Scientist Andrew Snyder couldn’t see a thing as he stumbled along the forest floor. Darkness bathed the branches of the Guyana rainforest. Snyder turned on his flashlight and saw a brilliant flash of blue. He fixed the beam on a rotting stump. It was crawling with a dozen huge, blue spiders. He was looking at a new species: the hairy blue tarantula!
Microbes and insects are not the only things out there, though. Colorful new species are turning up everywhere.
Hiding in Plain Sight
Some new species are right under our noses. A scientist in London, for example, discovered three unknown species of fungus in a package of grocery store mushrooms.
The patch‑nosed salamander was discovered near a creek in Georgia. And the Atlantic coast leopard frog was first identified on Staten Island, New York.
More species are being discovered now because scientists are looking at the world in different ways. They’re looking in places that have been too hard to get to. Humans are making more roads and cutting down forests. As they expand into the wild, they are coming across species that have never been seen before.
They are also using new, modern tools like deep‑sea cameras. New species like the Indonesian psychedelic frogfish, the yeti crab, and the six‑gilled shark have emerged from the depths.
Sometimes a new species can be found by looking at DNA. Scientists at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., were frustrated by a pair of olinguitos. They were not producing offspring.
After looking at their DNA, it turns out that the two animals were not the same species! One was an olinguito. The other turned out to be an olingo.