2012â€™s Noteworthy Species
Researchers described roughly 15,000 to 18,000 new species in 2012, making choosing the most noteworthy a monstrous task. â€œ[Itâ€™s] worse than asking me which of my children is my favorite,â€ quipped Quentin Wheeler, an entomologist at Arizona State University, in an email to The Scientist. Wheeler and his colleagues at the International Institute for Species Exploration will eventually publish a top ten list of this yearâ€™s new species, but the ranking criteria â€œare as diverse as the species themselves,â€ he said.
Some of this yearâ€™s new species were encountered by researchers deep in the field. Others were recognized from museum specimensâ€”long after the â€œnewâ€ species themselves had gone extinct, noted BenoÃ®t Fontaine, a conservation biologist at the MusÃ©um National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris. Even so, cataloging new species is an important task, said Fontaine. â€œWe know only small part of extant biodiversity,â€ he noted. â€œItâ€™s the tip of iceberg.â€
In celebration of biodiversity, here a few of 2012â€™s most exciting new species, and a fond farewell to a few more.