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.
This neon two-faced sea slug might look like something you’d find in a sci-fi movie, but it was just found right here on Earth! 🐛
The nudibranch – a soft-bodied, marine gastropod mollusk – was discovered by a diver and a team of film-makers at Kapalai, a sandbar off the coast of Sabah in eastern Malaysian Borneo.
These slugs are part of the species nembrotha kubaryana, but are commonly known as neon sea slugs due to their bright orange and green pattern – which warns predators of their toxicity.
The two-headed oddity was found by dive master Nash Baiti while making a new film series called ‘Borneo from Below.’ This amazing slug’s alien malformation was most likely caused by a gene mix up or damage from pollution.
Clay Bryce, a nudibranch expert and marine biologist at the Western Australian Museum in Perth said, ‘I have never seen another two headed marine creature like this before and I have spent 10,000 hours underwater chasing nudibranchs.’
Maybe it’s just me, but I think this one-of-a-kind neon slug is pretty cute! 😝
Who knew sea slugs could be adorable? The ‘sea bunny’ slug, or Jorunna parva, is a species known for its fluffy bunny-like appearance. No wonder it just gave the internet a heart attack! 💓
This little sea slug’s bunny ears are actually rhinophores, or chemosensory organs that help them detect chemicals in the water and also sense changes in currents. And its tiny ‘fluffy’ bunny body (less than 1 inch) is actually covered in caryophyllidia – sensory tubercles, surrounded by tiny needle-like structures called spicules.
Jorunna parva belongs to a group of soft-bodied, marine mollusks called nudibranchs.They are found along the coast of Japan, but have also been spotted in the Indian Ocean and around the Philippines.
This cute underwater rabbit can vary in color from yellow, to orange, to white with black ‘spots.’ All I know is I want one! 🐰