Cartwheeling spiders, pufferfish that make crop circles on the sea bed, and a “chicken from hell” — the top ten list of new species contains fascinating life forms never before imagined.

You have to wonder how we missed spotting them for so long. Maybe some of them were just difficult to catch, like the cartwheeling spider of Morocco. It can tumble end-over-end twice as fast as it can run, making for speedy getaways from predators in the desert.

An Indonesian frog gives birth to live tadpoles instead of laying eggs. The only frog species known to reproduce this way, its discovery instantly creates the need to update every science textbook.

For two decades scientists wondered what was making circular geometric patterns in the sea floor off the coast of Japan. An artistic pufferfish creates the sand art as a nest to attract a mate. Also in Japan a sea slug was found shimmering in shades of red, blue and gold, certainly the most beautiful slug ever seen.

New species Phyllodesmium acanthorhinum Photo by Robert Bolland
Photo by Robert Bolland

The “chicken from hell” — a feathered dinosaur that lived in the Dakota states alongside Tyrannosaurus Rex — is the only species on the top ten list that’s extinct. The dinosaur’s name comes from the location where the fossils were entombed, the prehistoric rocks of famous Hell Creek Formation.

Chicken-from-hell-dinosaur-PhotoCredit- Mark-A-Klinger-Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Illustration by Mark A. Klinger, Carnegie Museum of Natural History

An international panel of scientists picked the top ten new species from among around 18,000 discovered last year. State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) compiles the annual list to call attention to “how little we know about life on earth” and to promote efforts to protect rare species.

Rounding out the top ten new species are a plant that looks like coral, the X-Phyla, a bone-house wasp, a bromeliad plant, and a nine-inch long walking stick. Best estimates for the number of species yet to be discovered? Ten million!

(WATCH the video below or READ more from ESF)

Pufferfish circle photo by Yoji Okata

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