Humans often act like they know everything, but we don”t. There are areas of our planet, as small as it is, that we”ve never been to before. There are new creatures, places, habitats, and generally weird things being discovered all the time. Assuming we don”t entirely destroy everything, we can go on discovering new things in our world for a long time.
Each year, it”s estimated that humans become aware of around 15,000 new species, which is a lot. In 2014, scientists discovered a host of new (to us) critters, and they”re all pretty nifty.
1. The Elephant Shrew
You”ve probably seen plenty of images of this little rodent-looking creature, also known as a sengi. However, did you know it”s actually related to elephants and manatees? Similar to the hyrax, they are more closely related to these large mammals than they are to rodents.
2. The Moroccan Flic-Flac Spider
Arachnophobes everywhere, stay out of Morocco. This spider not only scurries, but it also cartwheels across the ground. And it goes on the offensive.
3. The X-Phyla
This might not only be a new species and genus, it might also be an entirely new phylum. A phylum is the next-largest category under kingdom. These look like fungi, but they are actually animals, and they live at depths of 1,000 meters in the ocean. They may be related to jellyfish, but they also might be something completely different.
4. The “dinosaur chicken from hell”
Okay, so this one isn”t exactly sharing the planet with us anymore (at least not in living form), but this beaked, birdlike dinosaur was recently discovered to have lived 66 million years ago. Its Latin name, Anzu wyliei, comes from the demon Anzu of Mesopotamian mythology. It was discovered in the Hell Creek Formation, which seems fitting.
5. The Intricate Satyr Butterfly
The three butterflies you see here are actually different species. It was originally thought, and understandably so, that they were all the same species, until genetic testing proved otherwise. Scientists were so surprised they thought they”d made a mistake.
6. The Narrow-Mouthed Frog.
Better known as the Chiasmocleis quilombola, to be exact, as there are other species of narrow-mouthed frog. It”s named for the quilombos, refuges deep in the Espirito Santo rainforest of Brazil that were used by escaped slaves between the 16th and 19th centuries.
7. The Bone-House Wasp
Nothing about that name is pleasant, and neither is this insect. Its habits include laying a single egg in a paralyzed, but still very alive spider, and then burying the spider, leaving the larva to eat its way out. These wasps also like to kill ants — not for food, but for sport (and possibly decoration). They take the corpses back to their nests and leave them piked outside the entrance like a grim warning. That”s pretty heavy.
8. The Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog
Found in the American Northeast, this frog is easy to pick out because of its weird, cough-like ribbit. This species of leopard frog was hypothesized in the 1930s, but the theory was dismissed — until now.
9. The White-Spotted Pufferfish
This fish was only named this year, but its mysterious, carefully crafted nests have been spotted off the coast of Japan for years. The males build these nests by slapping the sand into shape with their fins, and use their architectural skills to impress the ladies.
10. The Mystery Glowworm
This weird creature, which casts a green light at night thanks to the magic of bioluminescence, is still unnamed. These glowing worms lie in wait in a burrow, poking their bright heads out. When a curious insect comes by for a look, the worms grab it with their powerful pincers and drag it underground.
(via Yahoo Travel, IFL Science)
There were many more plants and animals discovered in the past year, including a plant that thrives on nickel, a “punk rock” snail covered in spines, and the deepest-living fish that hangs out in the Mariana Trench. Nature is endlessly fascinating, beautiful, and hardcore. We can”t wait to see what 2015 will bring!
Learn more than you ever wanted to about weird animals here: