What's in a name?
The top 10 newfound and newly named species of the previous year have been announced, and this year's list highlights species with bizarre names, unique diets and more.
For the past decade the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) has put together an annual list celebrating the new species. A "bleeding" tomato and a "Game of Thrones" ant made the list this year, along with a spider named for a magical hat from "Harry Potter" and a devilish orchid, among others.
Selected from approximately 18,000 new species named last year, here are the top 10 newfound species from 2016. [Read the full story about this year's top 10 new species list]
The spiny back of Pheidole drogon reminded scientists of the fierce Drogon, a black dragon from the "Game of Thrones" book series by George R. R. Martin, which has also been adapted into a television series on HBO. While the new ant species is far smaller than its fantastical namesake, the insect's dragon-like spine likely acts as an anchor for the species' large muscles, according to researchers.
Another new species from the list has a magical namesake. Eriovixia gryffindori is a tiny spider with a body shape reminiscent of the bewitched Sorting Hat from J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books and adapted films. Named for the hat's first owner, Godric Gryffindor, the spider's appearance is not only hat-like, but also helps camouflage the arachnid in the dry, brown leaves where it lives. Researchers wrote that the spider's name is "an ode...for magic lost, and found, in an effort to draw attention to the fascinating, but oft overlooked world of invertebrates, and their secret lives."
Diabolical indeed: The new orchid species Telipogon diabolicus has a distinct reproductive structure that resembles a devil's head. Though only recently discovered, the orchid is already considered critically endangered because its small habitat in southern Colombia is threatened by reconstruction of a road.
This worm may live in the sea, but it looks like fried pastry found at theme parks. Xenoturbella churro was discovered about 5,600 feet (1,722 meters) below the surface of the Gulf of California. Its uniform orange-pink color and four deep grooves reminded researchers of churros, a type of fried dough pastry. The 4-inch-long (10 cm) marine worm is part of a group of primitive worm-like animals known to be the earliest branch in the family tree of bilaterally symmetrical animals, which includes insects and humans.