December 16, 2011
California Academy Scientists Added 140 New Species To List In 2011
The California Academy of Sciences said on Wednesday that its researchers added 140 new species in 2011.
The new species includes 72 arthropods, 31 sea slugs, 13 fishes, 11 plants, nine sponges, three corals, and one reptile.
The scientists made their finds over six continents and three oceans, including Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian.
Among the 140 species discovered, researchers found four new sharks, including one with a blade-like snout.
The African dwarf sawshark was found at a depth of 1,600 feet off the coast of Mozambique. The shark swims through a school of fish, swinging its snout back-and-forth, stunning and injuring its prey. The shark then goes back to the area of its victims and consumes them.
The same team, lead by Academy research associate David Ebert, discovered two new species of lanternshark. These sharks emit light on various parts of their body, which scientists believe is a form of camouflage.
They also found a new species of angel shark in 1,200 feet of water off the Philippine island of Luzon. These sharks have flattened bodies and large pectoral fins that resemble wings.
New arthropods took the majority of the share for new species in 2011. Researchers from the Academy found 43 ants, 20 goblin spiders, six barnacles, and three beetles.
"Discovering new species, formally describing them, and determining their evolutionary relationships to other organisms provide the crucial foundation for making informed conservation decisions at a national level," the Academy said in a press release.
The scientists took a 42-day journey to the Philippines to survey the shallow water, deep sea, and mountain habitats of Luzon Island.
Early estimates indicate that they may have discovered as many as 500 new species during this journey, but it may take months or years to formally describe and publish a new species in a peer-reviewed journal.
The results from the Academy scientists were published in 33 different scientific papers this year. The Academy said that its work has helped advance answers to "the most important scientific questions of our time," including "How did life evolve” and “How will it persist”.
Image Caption: Pristiophorus nancyae, or the African dwarf sawshark, is one of 140 new species described by the California Academy of Sciences in 2011. This specimen was collected at a depth of 1,600 feet off the coast of Mozambique. It is notable for its elongated blade-like snout, or “rostrum,” which is studded with sharp teeth and used as a weapon. The sawshark will swim through a school of fish swinging its rostrum back and forth, stunning and injuring prey, and then swim back to consume the casualties. Credit: California Academy of Sciences
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