What’s Old Is New Again
The summer sun beats down on the Wyoming rocks. Bonnie Finney holds a large slab on its edge. She hammers a small wedge into the rock. A crevice spreads like a smile. Then the crevice opens. The slab pops open like a book.
Inside is a 50‑million-year-old bat fossil. It doesn’t look like any bat she's ever seen before. It’s larger than normal. It has a claw on each of its fingers instead of just one or two. More than 10 years later, scientists agree that this bat is from a long‑extinct species. It wasn’t new, but it was new to modern science. It was named Finney’s bat.
Heat rises up from the Moroccan sands. Ingo Rechenberg, a scientist from Germany, looks around at the dunes. Nothing is moving except the heat waves. He squints in the sunlight and spots a small spider.
Rechenberg is a robotics scientist. He is interested in how things move. He steps forward to catch the spider. Then suddenly, it flips and cartwheels away.
Rechenberg had never seen a spider move in this way. Neither had anyone else. It was a new species, now known as Cebrennus rechenbergi, the Moroccan flic‑flac spider.
Boy, Oh Boy!
When it comes to jellyfish, there are bell‑shaped and box‑shaped jellies. Bell‑shaped jellies move at the whim of the currents and wind. Box jellies can steer their bodies. Many of them are poisonous.
The Bonaire banded box jelly (Tamoya ohboya) is no exception. With its toxic warts and stingers, this jelly was spotted by at least 50 swimmers in 1989. It was given a nickname, but wasn’t officially named until 2011. A teacher named it. Ohboya refers to “Oh, boy!”. That’s for the expression you might use when you first see it.
Anyone can study the world around them and notice things. It’s called citizen science. Information a person collects can be sent to scientists. It’s valuable material and can make a big difference in studying the huge variety of biodiversity on Earth.
Earth is faced with pollution and climate change. The environment is changing rapidly. From adapting to the environment to fighting disease, there is much to learn from new species. Discovering and studying new species is vital now more than ever.