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Top 10 New Species for 2014

Top 10 New Species for 2014

An appealing carnivorous mammal, a 12-meter-tall tree that has been hiding in plain sight and a sea anemone that lives under an Antarctic glacier are among the species identified by the ESF International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) as the top 10 species discovered last year.

The 2014 Top Ten
Species are not ranked, and are presented in alphabetical order by scientific name.

An international committee of taxonomists and related experts selected the top 10 from among the approximately 18,000 new species named during the previous year and released the list May 22 to coincide with the birthday, May 23, of Carolus Linnaeus, an 18th century Swedish botanist who is considered the father of modern taxonomy.

The list includes a quartet of tiny newcomers to science: a miniscule skeleton shrimp from Santa Catalina Island in California, a single-celled protist that does a credible imitation of a sponge, a clean room microbe that could be a hazard during space travel and a teensy fringed fairyfly named Tinkerbell.

Also on the list are a gecko that fades into the background in its native Australia and a fungus that, conversely, blazed its way into contention by virtue of the bright orange color it displays when it's produced in colonies. Crawling slowly into the final spot on the alphabetical list is Zospeum tholussum, a tiny, translucent Croatian snail from one of earth's deepest cave systems.

The International Institute for Species Exploration is dedicated to the exploration, inventory, and classification of earth’s species, public awareness of the biodiversity crisis, advocacy for the important roles played by taxonomy and natural history museums, and in advancing cybertaxonomy, the application of cyber and digital tools to accelerate and improved comparative morphology, descriptive taxonomy, and phylogenetic classification.

The top 10 list is released each year on or about Carolus Linnaeus’ birthday on May 23rd. Linnaeus is the “Father of Taxonomy” and his work in the mid 18th century was the beginning point for “modern” naming and classification of plants and animals.

What on Earth book

What on Earth?
by Quentin Wheeler and Sara Pennak

What on Earth? is a compendium of the 100 coolest, weirdest, and most intriguing new species of this century as determined by the International Institute for Species Exploration.


Founded in 1911, ESF is the nation's oldest and most respected college dedicated solely to the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies and building a sustainable future.

2014 Species Selection Committee

Members of the international selection committee are:

  • Antonio Valdecasas, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, Spain, Chair
  • Dr. Cristina Damborenea, División Zoologia Invertebrados, Museo de La Plata, Argentina;
  • Dr. Andrew Polaszek, Natural History Museum, England;
  • Dr. Ellinor Michel, Natural History Museum, England;
  • Marcelo Rodrigues de Carvalho, Universidade de São Paulo;
  • Prof. Aharon Oren, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem;
  • Dr. Mary Liz Jameson, Wichita State University, U.S.A.;
  • Dr. Alan Paton, Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, England;
  • Dr. James A. Macklin, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canada;
  • Dr. Zhi-Qiang Zhang, Landcare Research, New Zealand; and
  • Carol Hughes, MLSt, Director, Strategic Content and Media, Office of Public Relations and Communications, DePaul University.

A news release is available on request.

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