By Melanie Stirling

Let’s celebrate some of the amazing new discoveries that came out of 2021! This past year uncovered over 550 new species that kept a low profile until now. Let's get to know some of these crazy creatures by handing out some special superlatives!

Which species is most likely to…

Win at hide and seek?

The Nano-Chameleon (Brookesia nana)

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A male nano-chameleon, measuring roughly 13.5mm. Photo: Frank Glaw, SNSB-ZSM/Newsflash.

This species was discovered by a German-Madagascan expedition team in northern Madagascar and although these tiny chameleons are the size of a sunflower seed, they have made a big name for themselves as they could be the smallest of the world’s 11,500 reptiles! With claiming that title, we think this species would be crowned as the champion of hide and seek because they’d be able to hide away in the tiniest nooks and crannies and never be found.

Start their own heavy metal band?

The Screaming Tree Frog (Litoria quiritatus)

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A male screaming tree frog. Photo: Jodi Rowley.

With music being the way to the hearts of many, it’s no surprise that even frogs bring their vocals to new heights to woo potential mates. This small but mighty frog can be found around Taree, New South Wales in the north along the coast and eastern fall of the Great Dividing Range to just across the border into Victoria in the south. The sound that the newly discovered screaming tree frog makes has been described as a loud, piercing, and almost painful call. With heavy metal being recognizable from its loud and vigorous vocals, we have no doubt that the screaming tree frog would feel right at home as the lead vocalist of their own heavy metal band. To listen to this frog in action, click here!

Start their own fashion line?

The Metallic Beetles

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Two metallic beetles, male (left) and female (right). Photo: Telnov, 2021.

These flashy beetles that were discovered in India are a kaleidoscope of colour and are here to make a statement. They dress to impress and are breaking the boundaries of what a typical beetle looks like. With this courage and confidence to stand out, we know the metallic beetle would be all the buzz in the fashion industry as the new up and comer with their bold and fierce exoskeleton fashion line.

Run away with the circus?

The Spotted Skunks (Spilogale spp.)

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A spotted skunk showing off its acrobatic skills to intimidate predators. Photo: Jerry W. Dragoo.

These skunks have been called the “acrobats of the skunk world” and for good reason, as they are able to use their gymnastic skills to scare off predators by performing handstands! Their secret to the perfect intimidating handstand is to kick out their back legs, puff up their tail, and then walk towards their predator to appear bigger and scarier. We don’t know about you, but these tactics would work on us! With skills like these, we’re sure they’ll be discovered by Cirque du Soleil in no time and happily run away with the circus smelling of success.

Have the most ironically perfect name?

The Suzhen’s Krait (Bungarus suzhenae)

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A Suzhen’s krait snake. Photo: Photo: Dr. Li Ding.

You know when a name perfectly suits somebody? Well the Suzhen’s krait, a snake that was discovered in rice fields and streams in monsoon forests in southwestern China and northern Myanmar, has the most ironic, yet perfect, name. This slithering reptile was named after a mythical Chinese goddess of healing, but here’s the irony, this snake is lethal! You may be thinking, “why would a deadly snake be named after a goddess of healing?”. Good question. There’s two reasons the Suzhen’s krait is actually the perfect fit for its name. First off its venom helps to provide essential information for antivenom development and proper snakebite treatment, which could help to heal those that have been bitten. The second reason is that researchers chose to name the snake after Bai Su Zhen, a snake goddess from a popular Chinese myth, the Legend of White Snake

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An artist’s rendering of the Legend of White Snake. Photo: Shizhao, Wikimedia Commons.

The legend shares that Bai Su Zhen transformed herself from a white snake into a woman and fell in love with a man, and together they operated a hospital, saving multiple lives. This resulted in Bai Su Zhen being known as a symbol of true love and healing. So although ironic, this name that’s connected to healing perfectly suits this deadly snake.

It’s a crazy world out there, one filled to the brim with different species of all shapes, sizes, and colours. We hope you enjoyed getting to know some of the new creatures that were discovered in 2021! We look forward to learning about all the new species that will be uncovered this year in 2022!

 

Sources

  1. Dinosaurs and meteorites: Museum scientists described 552 new species in 2021 | Natural History Museum
  2. 7 New Animals Discovered in 2021 So Far
  3. Surprise discovery of two new 'very loud' frog species | UNSW Newsroom
  4. Bleating or screaming? Two new, very loud, frog species described in eastern Australia - The Australian Museum Blog
  5. https://www.frogid.net.au/frogs/litoria-quiritatus
  6. Say hello to handstanding spotted skunks, 'the acrobats of the skunk world' - CNN
  7. Deadly new snake named after mythical Chinese goddess of healing

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