I live in San Francisco and the California Academy of Sciences is one of my favorite places to visit! Who doesn’t love penguins, rainforests, albino alligators, and a rad planetarium all under one roof??
In 2015, researchers at the Academy added 102 new plant and animal species to our family tree. The new species include two frogs, 23 ants, three beetles, eight wasps, 11 spiders, 26 fishes, nine sea slugs, two corals, nine plants, one water bear, and eight new viruses.
Given that we have found less than 10% of the species on our planet, the Academy has inspired me to share ten of my favorite wild new species discovered in 2015. Meet the hog-nosed shrew rat, sparklemuffin spider, and water bear. Happy New Year! 🎉
Behold sparklemuffin (Maratus jactatus), a peacock spider found in Australia.
Enyalioides sophiarothschildae, one of the three new species of dwarf dragons discovered in the Andes of Peru and Ecuador.
“Water bear” is a cuddly name for a microscopic water-dwelling organism with eight legs topped by tiny claws.
Shape-shifting frog. This species, found in Ecuador, can change the texture of its skin in a matter of minutes.
Like other horseshoe bats, this newfound animal has a large structure on its face that is shaped somewhat like a (surprise!) horseshoe.
The hog-nosed rat (Hyorhinomys stuempkei) was found on a mountain in Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia.
A face only a mother could love. A close-up view of the electric ray Tetronarce cowleyi, which feeds on bony fish and small sharks.
This marine pill bug (Exosphaeroma pentcheffi), found in a seaside park in Los Angeles, is just one of many species discovered in 2015.
Researchers from the Academy described six new species of strange subterranean ants from the genus Prionopelta in Madagascar and Seychelles – known as ‘Dracula’ ants.
Another newly discovered species of nudibranch, or sea slug: the pink-and-orange Doto splendidisim.
Human beings are not sterile organisms – we are made up of millions of living microbes. In fact, we shed up to a million particles an hour! That means over the course of a day you will ditch roughly 24 million biological particles (bacteria, viruses, spores and more) into the air around you, forming what scientists are calling a ‘microbe cloud.’ It looks like everyone has a little more in common with Pig-Pen from Peanuts than we thought. 😷
Adam Altrichter, a microbial ecologist at the University of Oregon, and his colleagues asked 11 individuals to spend varying amounts of time in a sanitized sample chamber. Then they sampled the surfaces and the air for microbes.
Researchers discovered that most people could be clearly detected by their airborne bacterial emissions alone, as well as settled particles found on surfaces. Bacterial clouds from the sample groups were statistically distinct! The results show for the first time that individuals release their own personalized microbial cloud. We each give off a slightly different cocktail of bacteria.
“Our results confirm that an occupied space is microbially distinct from an unoccupied one,” the authors wrote, “and reveal for the first time that individuals occupying a space can emit their own distinct personal microbial cloud.”
Our unique ‘microbe clouds’ could have an impact on epidemiology, environmental engineering, or criminal forensics. The findings were published Tuesday in the journal PeerJ.