The Arizona State University International Institute for Species Exploration has announced its top ten species of 2013 on May 23, the birthday of Carl Linnaeus’s birthday, the father of taxonomy. Only about two million of an estimated 10 to 12 million living species have been identified, excluding most microbial species. Quentin Wheeler, founding director of the International Institute for Species Exploration at ASU said: “For decades, we have averaged 18,000 species discoveries per year which seemed reasonable before the biodiversity crisis. Now, knowing that millions of species may not survive the 21st century, it is time to pick up the pace.” He is calling for a NASA-like mission to discover 10 million species in the next 50 years. He believes that this will lead to options for a more sustainable future and shed light on the origins of the biosphere.
The top species are chosen by an international committee of taxonomy experts out of about 140 nominated species from about 18,000 species last year.The experts chose because of any criteria they wished, to draw attention to biodiversity.
The most common areas where new species are found are Madagascar, India, Indonesia, South America, and Southeast Asia. And, given the increasing rates that new species are found, scientists believe that previous estimates are low.
The 2013 species are:
1. Lilliputian Violet (Viola lilliputana): A tiny violet found only in Intermontane Plateau of the high Andes of Peru.
2. Lyre Sponge (Chondrocladia lyra) : Lyre-shaped carnivorous sponge discovered off the coast of California.
3. Lesula Monkey (Cercopithecus lomamiensis): An Old World monkey discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
4. No to the Mine! Snake (Sibon noalamina): Snail-eating snake discovered in the highland rainforests of western Panama.
5. A Smudge on Paleolithic Art (Ochroconis anomala): Fungus discovered on the walls of Lascaux Cave in France.
6. World’s Smallest Vertebrate (Paedophryne amanuensis): Tiny frog was found in Amau village in Papua New Guinea.
7. Endangered Forest (Eugenia petrikensis): Shrub growing with small magenta flowers.
8. Lightning Roaches (Lucihormetica luckae) Glow-in-the-dark cockroach discovered in Ecuador.
9. No Social Butterfly (Semachrysa jade): Green butterfly with dark markings discovered in a park near Kuala Lumpur.
10. Hanging Around in the Jurassic (Juracimbrophlebia ginkgofolia): Hangingfly fossil discovered in Middle Jurassic deposits in the Jiulongshan Formation in China’s Inner Mongolia.
There are several benefits to discovering new species. Some of them, according to Conservation International, include new food and medicine, insights into our DNA, new regulators for cleaner air and water, and aesthetic value. Given these potential benefits and that one bulldozer or a single logging day may wipe out a species, the effort to find new species must indeed be sustained and sped up.