Science has identified some 2 million species of plants, animals and microbes on Earth, but scientists estimated there are millions more left to discover, and new species are constantly discovered and described. The most commonly discovered new species are typically insects, a type of animal with a high degree of biodiversity. Newly discovered mammal species are rare, but they do occur, typically in remote places that haven't been well studied previously. Some animals are found to be new species only when scientists peer at their genetic code, because they look outwardly similar to another species — these are called cryptic species. Some newfound species come from museum collections that haven't been previously combed through and, of course, from fossils. Read below for stories about newly discovered species, both alive on Earth today and those that once roamed the planet.
Scientists have described two lamprey fossils with "extensively toothed" mouths from the Jurassic period, shining a light on how this group has evolved into its modern forms since the Devonian.
A retired chicken farmer found the rocks in the mid-1990s and donated it to the Australian Museum, where researchers have now named the newfound species Arenaerpeton supinatus.
The ancient nematode has lain dormant in a fossilized squirrel burrow since the late Pleistocene, revealing that these worms can survive for tens of thousands of years longer than thought.
The pair of newfound species, as well as two previously known species unearthed in the same place, rewrite what we knew about these prehistoric predators.
These "greedy" eels likely retreated into the gloomy depths of underwater caves in search of tasty crustaceans and are adapting to the darkness by going blind, one eye at a time.
Researchers named the newfound species Tripedalia maipoensis, after Mai Po Nature Reserve in Hong Kong, where they discovered the transparent critter.
Fossils uncovered in Australia belong to a newfound species of extinct eagle that was big enough to pick up hobbit-size prey, like the fictional giant eagles in "The Lord of the Rings."
Fossils of a 70 million-year-old platypus relative called Patagorhynchus pascuali found in South America show that egg-laying mammals evolved on more than one continent.
Researchers have isolated viable microbes from melting permafrost after tens of thousands of years. But don't worry; they infect only amoebas.
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