Culture News

They're Alive! Top 10 New Species of 2010

Fascinating, awe-inspiring and often downright horrifying -- these are the Top 10 New Species of 2010, named by the International Institute of Species Exploration at Arizona State University this afternoon.

There's no pageant here, folks, and thankfully no talent portion. Who's to say what a carnivorous sponge, flat-faced frogfish or "bomb"-releasing deep-sea worm might do under a spotlight?

The first (pictured above) is the Attenborough's Pitcher. More details and the other nine after the jump ...

Scientific Name: Nepenthes attenboroughii

Common Name: None
How it made the Top 10:
The plant is described as "charismatic" and has a insect trapper the size of an American football. Oh yes, this is a carnivorous plant that can be found on the Palawan, Philippines.

2. Bombardier Worm

Name: Swima bombiviridis
Common Name: Green bombers
Family: Acrocirridae

How it made the Top 10:
The Green Bomber, found in California, is a deep-sea annelid whose "bombs" illuminate when threatened.

3. Udderly Weird Yam

Name: Dioscorea orangeana

Common Name: Angona
How it made the Top 10:
This plant is indeed edible and is unusual because of the number of lobes it has. It's listed as critically endangered, but is heavily harvested in Madagascar.

4.Bug-eating Slug

Name: Aiteng ater

Common Name: Aiteng
How it made the Top 10:
This Taiwanese slug was put in its own family, Aitengidae, because of its food preferences. While slugs usually prefer algae and gastropod eggs, this one digs insects.

5. Far-Out Frogfish

Name: Histiophryne psychedelica
Common Name:
Psychedelic frogfish
How it made the Top 10:
Who can resist a psychedelic pattern AND a flat face? This frogfish can be found in Indonesia.

6. Uber Orb-Weaver

Name: Nephila komaci
Common Name: Komac's golden orb spider
Family: Nephilidae
How it made the Top 10:
This orb-spinning spider (or hungry hippo?) can be found in Madagascar and biologists predict its web, though they haven't discovered any, to be at least one meter in diameter.

7. Small Favor

Name: Phallus drewesii
Common Name:
None (although we're sure you could come up with one)
How it made the Top 10:
This two-inch mushroom, can be found in Sao Tome Príncipe and was recently the subject of NPR's "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me."

8. Fanged Fish

Name: Danionella dracula
Common Name: Dracula minnow
How it made the Top 10:
Grab the garlic -- these fish have "canine-like" fangs for fighting. They're the first freshwater fish to have recorded oral teeth-like structures and can be found in Myanmar. 

9. Short-Circuited Electric Fish

Name: Gymnotus omarorum
Common Name:
Omars' banded knifefish
How it made the Top 10: 
This fish is being described as "a model species for understanding electric organ physiology and electrocommunication." That's right, electrocommunication. But don't expect to experience any unless you're in Uruguay.

10. Killer Sponge

Name: Chondrocladia (Meliiderma) turbiformis
Common Name: None
How it made the Top 10: 
This New Zealand sponge is actually carnivorous. While not the first carnivorous sponge, it does have a new spicule type (a sponge skeletal element), which warrants a top 10 nomination.

Sweet dreams!

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton