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.
The fossils of an ancient, eyeless worm show it was covered in so many bristles that it looked like a kitchen brush. The finds are helping researchers solve an evolutionary mystery.
During the Jurassic period, about 161 million years ago, a duck-size dinosaur dazzled its fellow paleo-beasts with its rainbow-colored, iridescent feathers.
Scientists have discovered a surprisingly "visionary" detail about a dinosaur-age bird that had a tooth-filled beak: It could likely see in color.
A rare, vivid green bird with radiant yellow feathers on its head is actually a unique hybrid species living in the Amazon rainforest, researchers have found.
About 75 million years ago, an odd dinosaur walked from land into the water, where it used its flipper-like arms to swim in the ocean.
Fossilized remains of an extinct species of horseshoe crab, named after Darth Vader because the animal's bizarre shape resembles the "Star Wars" character's iconic helmet, were discovered in Idaho.
One dark night in the Guyana rainforest, herpetologist Andrew Snyder serendipitously shined his flashlight on "a small glint of brilliant, cobalt blue" sticking out of a rotting stump.
The orangutan lives on Sumatra, south of a lake in the caldera of a supervolcano. There are fewer than 800 individuals in the population, researchers say.
Earth's first trees had hundreds of tree-like structures within them, making them exceedingly more intricate than the insides of modern trees, a new study finds.
A new species of rat, measuring 18 inches long, has been discovered in the South Pacific, the first time in 80 years a new rat species has been found there.
For nearly 50 years, researchers have found mysterious, disembodied teeth dating to the dinosaur age in southern Alberta, Canada.
In a case worthy of Sherlock Holmes, researchers are trying to figure out exactly when and where in the world a long-fingered lizard got trapped in the sticky sap of a tree.