Each year, an international committee of taxonomists at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry pores over thousands of new species named the previous year. The result: a top 10 list it publishes on or around the May 23 birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, the 18th-century master of identifying and classifying living organisms. This year the group had about 18,000 candidates to choose from, and their choices are intriguing, as per the Washington Post and ESF:
- Ferociously spinning sand spider (Cebrennus rechenbergi): This guy can be found cartwheeling his way around the sand dunes of Morocco, but he's not tumbling for fun: It's sometimes the best way to get away from predators. It can't keep up that pace for very long, though. (More about the spider here.)
- "Chicken from hell" (Anzu wyliei): The genus name for this dinosaur comes from an ancient Mesopotamian myth about a feathered demon, and when you imagine what it must have looked like—a 10-foot-long, 600-pound beast with feathers and a beak like a parrot—its moniker makes perfect sense. (More about the dino here.)
- Stunning sea slug (Phyllodesmium acanthorhinum): It's just an inch long, but this sea slug found in the waters off Japan emits great beauty. Said to be the "missing link" between sea slugs that eat hydroids and those that chow down on coral, this slug radiates in red, blue, and gold.
- Atypical tuber (Balanophora coralliformis): Whether you call it a parasitic potato like the Post, a coral plant like ESF, or pretzel cactuses like we do, this plant is on its last legs in the Philippines: There were only 50 total of this plant found on the sides of Mount Mingan, per the Post, and ESF notes that scientists consider it "critically endangered."
- Walking stick (Phryganistria tamdaoensis): Speak softly and carry a big stick—or a giant stick in hiding. This walking stick is found in abundance in Vietnam's Tam Dao National Park (hence the species name) and belongs to a family known as "giant sticks." It can grow up to 9 inches in length, but because it's an expert at blending in with its environment, there may be even bigger ones out there that we just haven't seen yet.
Head over to ESF
to see what other curious creatures made the top 10. (More lists