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.
A single fossilized backbone is the first evidence on record that dolphins once swam around the waters of ancient Madagascar, a new study says.
The discovery of a pair of fossilized skulls from dome-headed dinosaurs is shedding light on how these bizarre creatures called pachycephalosaurs evolved, researchers say.
About 66 million years ago, an ancient sea monster the height of a five-story office building once gnashed its sharp teeth as it swam around the dark waters of Antarctica, a new study finds.
About 36 million years ago, a shark the length of two upright pianos chipped and lost its three-pronged tooth, possibly while crunching on a bony fish, a new study finds.
About 95 million years ago, a bus-size and scaly-skinned sauropod dinosaur with a long tail and even longer neck lumbered across what is now Queensland, Australia, a new study finds.
The discovery of a new species of rare and elusive whale in the North Pacific shows how little humans know about the deep and vast ocean, researchers say.
New ant species' dragon-like appearance inspired scientists to name it for the fire-breathing star of Game of Thrones.
The newfound pitviper lives in a Costa Rican cloud forest and kills prey with a neurotoxin also used by rattlesnakes.
Despite its razor-sharp teeth and impressive bite force, Tyrannosaurus rex is largely mocked for its tiny arms. Now, a new finding shows that T. rex was in good company.
About 99 million years ago, two bizarre spiders — each sporting hard, armored plates on their bodies and horns on their fangs — became mummified in sticky tree resin that turned into amber.