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Olinguitos and Geckos and Microbes, Oh My!

   
Olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) (Image 1 of 10)

The first new carnivorous mammal described in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years, the olinguito lives in trees in the cloud forests of the Andes mountains in Colombia and Ecuador.

Photo by Mark Gurney / CC BY 3.0

   
Kaweesak’s Dragon Tree (Dracaena kaweesakii) (Image 2 of 10)

Kaweesak’s dragon tree grows in the limestone mountains of the Loei and Lop Buri Provinces in Thailand. Only about 2,500 specimens are known to exist.

Photo by Paul Wilkin

   
ANDRILL Anemone (Edwardsiella andrillae) (Image 3 of 10)

This newly identified species of sea anemone was discovered under a glacier by the Antarctic Geological Drilling Program (ANDRILL). It hangs from the underside of ice sheets, dangling its tentacles into the chilly water below.

Image courtesy of SCINI

   
Skeleton Shrimp (Liropus minusculus) (Image 4 of 10)

Less than an inch long, the translucent skeleton shrimp was discovered in a cave on Santa Catalina Island off Southern California.

Photo by SINC (Servicio de Informacion y Noticias CientÌficas) and J.M. Guerra-García

   
Orange Penicillium (Penicillium vanoranjei) (Image 5 of 10)

This bright-orange, soil-dwelling fungus was first found in Tunisia. It produces a substance that is thought to protect it from drought.

Images courtesy of Cobus M. Visagie and Jan Dijksterhuis

   
Leaf-tailed Gecko (Saltuarius eximius) (Image 6 of 10)

Mottled coloration and a broad tail help the nocturnal leaf-tailed gecko blend in with its environment. Discovered in the Melville Range in northeastern Australia, it hangs out on vertical surfaces in rain forests and rocky terrain.

Photo by Conrad Hoskin

   
Amoeboid Protist (Spiculosiphon oceana) (Image 7 of 10)

Found in underwater caves in the Mediterranean Sea off the southeastern coast of Spain, the amoeboid protist builds a spiny shell around itself using silica from its environment. It eats invertebrate that get caught in the spines.

Photo courtesy of Manuel Maldonado

   
Clean Room Microbes (Tersicoccus phoenicis) (Image 8 of 10)

Clean room bacteria were discovered in rooms in Florida and French Guiana used to construct spacecraft. Although the areas in which they were found had been sterilized, their ability to tolerate extreme conditions allowed these durable bacteria to survive.

Images courtesy of Leibniz-Institute DSMZ and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

   
Tinkerbell Fairyfly (Tinkerbella nana) (Image 9 of 10)

One of the smallest known insects, this parasitoid wasp is less than 1/100th of an inch long. It was discovered at LaSelva Biological Station in Costa Rica.

Photo by Jennifer Read

   
Domed Land Snail (Zospeum tholussum) (Image 10 of 10)

The domed land snail was discovered more than a half-mile below ground in the Lukina Jama-Trojama caves of western Croatia. Blind and translucent, it lives in complete darkness.

Photo by Jana Bedek

 

The wonders of nature just got a bit more wonderful.

Over the past year, experts around the world have added some 18,000 new species of plants, animals and other living things to the list of known species on the planet. Using criteria such as geographic diversity and unusualness, a group of scientists commissioned by the International Institute for Species Exploration has named those depicted here as the top 10 new species for 2014.

“The top 10 is designed to bring attention to the unsung heroes addressing the biodiversity crisis by working to complete an inventory of Earth’s plants, animals and microbes,” institute founding director Quentin Wheeler said in a statement announcing the selection. “Each year a small, dedicated community of taxonomists and curators substantively improve our understanding of the diversity of life and the wondrous ways in which species have adapted for survival.”

IISE began selecting top 10 species in 2008. Visit the IISE website for listings — accompanied by equally intriguing images — from previous years. View Ensia homepage

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