If we stop for a few minutes from our daily hustle and bustle of life and start to observe the impressive fauna and flora surrounding us, we will soon realize that there are many species of animals surrounding us. It seems that these have no end if we consider those new ones that are discovered every year. Let’s check out six animal species discovered in 2020, some of which will undoubtedly surprise you! The College of Environmental and Forest Sciences of the State University of New York (ESF) has published the “Top Ten” of the most important and fascinating species that have just been discovered. Among them, a fish that lives in the Mariana Trench, a beetle that clings to ants and a protist found in a San Diego aquarium.
#1. ANCORACYSTA TWISTA
We start with a species that many may consider is not an animal in the strictest sense of the word, although it is a living being. A tiny-sized unicellular protist that challenged scientists to determine its closest relatives. It does not fit neatly into any known group and appears to be an undiscovered early lineage of Eukaryota with an exceptionally rich mitochondrial genome. This new species also has an exceptional talent; it uses its whip-like scourge to propel itself and then uses some of its unusual organs like harpoons to immobilize other protists it catches as prey.
#2. QUASIMODO EPIMERIA
At just two inches long, Epimeria Quasimodo is an amphipod, an order of crustaceans, that lives in the Southern Ocean. He was named after the character created by Victor Hugo (Quasimodo). They discovered it thanks to morphological and DNA analysis; The researchers were convinced that they knew all the glacial amphipod species, but the “Quasimodo” had escaped classification.
#3. NYMPHISTER KRONAUERI
Like an ant, this other animal species discovered in 2021 is actually a small beetle that exactly replicates the shape and size of Eciton Mexicanum ants’ abdomen. This tiny beetle hooked on ants to be transported from one area to another. The Nymphister Kronaueri is only 1.5 millimetres long and takes advantage of its appearance when it is attached to its “means of transport,” managing to go unnoticed. Its shape is so similar to the abdomen of ants and is used to blend in. This creates the effect that the ant has two bellies. Perhaps that is why it has taken so long to discover this species?
#4. TAPANULI ORANGUTAN (PONGO TAPANULIENSIS)
Through extensive genetic studies conducted on orangutans, researchers have found that there is a genetically distinct population from the two already known species in a remote region of Sumatra. They are the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo Abelii) and the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus). The new species, called Pongo Tapanuli, a name it has received from the district in which it was discovered, comprises only 800 specimens scattered in an area of only one thousand square meters and highly fragmented. For this reason, the Tapanuli orangutan is considered the closest great ape to extinction.
#5. MARIANA SNAIL FISH (PSEUDOLIPARIS SWIREI)
In about 8 thousand meters of depth, in an enclave like the Mariana Trench, a new fish species has been discovered. This has been baptized with the name of snailfish (Pseudoliparis Swirei).
This small fish belongs to the Liparidae family and is only eight inches long. It is colourless, translucent, although with a slightly pinkish hue, and feeds on small crustaceans. The discovery is also important because until now, it was believed that no type of animal life could exist at that depth. We could say that the Snail Fish is the “king of the abyss.”
#6. DINIZIA JUEIRANA-FACAO
Among the eleven species of animals discovered in 2020, we will also include plants and tree species. The Dinizia Jueirana-Facao is a tree from Brazil’s forests, specifically from the Espírito Santo region, recently discovered.
It belongs to the Dinizia genus of legumes. Although due to its height (more than 40 m), it stands out from the rest of plants, trees and foliage, it has until now been unknown. It was found in a pristine riparian semi-deciduous Atlantic forest. Its woody fruits stand out (which you can see in the image above), in the form of pods, these can reach up to half a meter in length.
Surprisingly, D. Jueirana-Facao is only known from within and beyond the boundaries of Reserva Natural Vale in northern Espírito Santo, Brazil, and there are only 25 known specimens. No less impressive is that this newly discovered species is smaller than the Amazon variant.