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New Species in our Ecosystem: A Preface to an Epistemological Quest

By Yumna Mahmood

Paruroctonus conclusus



The will of the Creator has always surprised mortal man. Man, whose abilities are limited, though seems to dominate the universe, is astonished at many phenomena around him, such as:

  1. Extreme magnetism in Barmuda
  2. Migration of birds to and from their polar homes
  3. Feeding of plants on insects
  4. Unmatchable sense of sight of hawks and buzzards
  5. Emotions in plants

The list will keep going on. The answer to why is this happening might be many but “Who is doing this? “How is this happening?” are the questions that produce more questions with every statement provided as a possible answer to them.

On each dawn on our dear planet Earth, many plants and animals breathe in life for the first and sometimes for the first and the last time. Scientists are always excited to create a record of novel species and enthusiastic to save them from extinction. Moreover, every person on earth is amazed to have them on the planet irrespective of his age or occupation.

The Species Spotted For the First Time


Species is a term that is used for those plants and animals that have separate identities and produce fertile babies only with the members of their population. Lion is a species. Lions are produced when a lion mates with a lioness. Similarly, Dandelion is a species. They are produced when the flowers of Dandelions are pollinated with the pollens of other Dandelions.

In case a lion mates with a tigress or a tiger with a lioness, cubs will be produced with characters of both species. Such a species is called a cross, and also, a “New Species.”

Sometimes, there is a unique animal or plant discovered that can’t be categorized as a cross. Such plants and animals are also classified as, “New Species.”

Victoria boliviana

 

New Plant Species Discovered


Victoria boliviana is an extra large water lily, found in Bolivia in the Mamore river basin. It was hypothesized by the Horticulturist Carlos Magdalena that this water lily was not any of the two known species Victoria amazonica and Victoria cruziana. Finally, he experimented by growing the seeds of this plant donated by Bolivia and proved that this plant was a new species, rather than any of the other two previously known.

Uvariopsis dicaprio was named as a homage to the actor and environmentalist, Leonardo DiCaprio as a token of gratitude for supporting the campaign to protect Ebo forests. This tropical tree is 4m tall and has bunches of large and shiny yellow-green flowers on its trunk. Scientists at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew added it to the National Herbarium of Cameroon as it was found there (Cameroon) in the ylang-ylang forest.

Disepalum rawagambut is the first peat swamp described in the last 60 decades. It was in 2021 when its fruits and flowers were observed to be too different from other peat swamp trees.

Gastrochilus pankajkumarii was first spotted in Vietnam having speckled leaves and yellow-orange flowers. The latter part of the name is assigned in recognition of Dr Pankaj Kumar for his work for orchids.

Minnesota Mountain Onions-California is endemic to the region of Salt Creek Mountain and Minnesota Mountain at the Klamath range. First, they were spotted on Minnesota Mountain by Julie Kierstead, in the year 2015. According to Julie and her research partner, “the Minnesota Mountain onion can only be found on these two neighbouring peeks.”

Amomum foetidum belongs to the ginger family and is known for its pungent smell due to which it’s used as a bug repellent. It was discovered in eastern Thailand in a shop but is a new species for science as it was never recorded before.
Litoria dentate


Spot Light on New Animal Species:


Animals are diverse ranging from aquatic to aerial, terrestrial, burrowing, and cursorial. When it comes to the new species added to the Animal Kingdom, there is a diverse fauna we come across, such as the following:

New Species of Reptiles:


Reptiles are defined as creeping animals, with a backbone, and a rough epidermis, covered with scales in some cases. New species of reptiles have been discovered with astonishing features and discovery stories.

1. Churah snake, as found in Himachal Pardesh, India is a new reptilian species yellow in colour with brown sides, that was first captured in camera by Virender Bhardwaj, a photography student. He uploaded pictures of this species on his Instagram page which were viewed by two scientists namely, Zeeshan Mirza and Harshil Patel. These two scientists took help from Virendar and they were together able to spot and capture the male and female snakes of this species near Thanei Kothi in Churah. The name of the species, hence, was kept in honour of this place.

2.Nano chameleons of Madagascar are the smallest of all chameleons on earth. Their extremely small size makes them unique. No wonder we were unable to find them until now! The males are the smallest of all the male reptiles and smaller than their 29mm long females also.

3.Lygodactyls frtizi is the new gecko species discovered in the Northern Central East of Madagascar and is named after the Director of the Museum of Zoology in Dresden, Uwe Fritz.

4. Sceloporous huichol has been introduced as a new species of spiny lizard in the year 2022 from the Oak and Pine forests in Nayarit and Jalisco, present in west-central Mexico. The species’ name attributes to the Huichol tribe of the region where this species was discovered.

5.Phalotris shawnella a non-venomous snake having red, black, and yellow colouration, is another species of snake discovered in the year 2014. First, it was reported from Rancho Laguna Blanca, Paraguay, and the second one from Colonia Volendam which is 90.5 km away from Laguna Blanca. The name shawnella honours two people namely, Shawn Ariel Smith Fernandez and Ella Bethany Atkinson who were born at the time of the formation of Para La Tierra for the conservation of the Paraguayan Ecosystem. It was a scientist from this foundation who first reported this species in Paraguay.

6. Bavayia geckos, found in the mountains of New Caledonia, have been discovered to be physically similar but genetically diverse making each of them a separate species. Aaron Bauer, PhD has added 28 species of the genus Bavayia to the known fauna of 13 species. He says, “Nearly every mountain in New Caledonia hosts a unique Bavayia species, and these habitats share many of the same conditions. The result is several species that are often almost indistinguishable from one another.”

7.Cnemaspis selenolagus is a Thailand gecko species that has half of its back coloured yellow while the remaining half of its back grey. This alteration in the colours seems to be an aid in camouflage.

Churah snake

 

Shortly Reported Amphibians


Amphibians are slimy-skin vertebrates that are known to have a dual way of life, i.e. in aquatic and terrestrial habitats throughout their life. This group of animals includes newts, salamanders, toads, and frogs.

1.Andrias jiangxiensis are giant salamanders found in Jiangxi province, China. Jiangxi giant salamanders are found to be genetically pure rather than a farm-produced hybrid, unlike other wild giant salamanders. Even in the farms where they are found, the population of salamanders contains only these species which proves that it is not crossbred.

2.Bolitoglossa cathyledecae was discovered by Panamanian scientists while investigating the Cordillera de Talamanca mountain range in the southeast of Costa Rica and the La Amistad International Park. They distinguished the discovered salamander physically and genetically from other species closely resembling it.

3.Synapturanus danta, known as a chocolate frog and tapir frog also, was spotted in the Putumayo Basin of Peru. The frog is also referred to as Rana danta by the people of Comunidad Nativa Tres Esquinas.

4. Pristimantis gretathunbergae, named after Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist, is a rain-frog species with black eyes. This frog was spotted in eastern Panama on Mount Chucanti by an international team having Ph. D, Abel Batista, and Conrad Mebert as its leaders.

5.Leptobrachium lunatum has been reported from Vietnam and Cambodia as a bighead frog.

6. Litoria dentate nick named the Crying out Tree Frog has been reported from eastern Australia. These are distinguished from the other tree frogs from a caramel vocal sac that on swelling turns yellowish.

Mammalian Species New to Science


Mammals are those animals that milk-feed their babies with their mammary glands. The new species of mammals include:

1. Nimba bats from the West African region. These bats have been named in honour of the Nimba mountains where they were first found. Due to their orange-coloured hair, they are also called Orange bats.

2.Trachypithecus popa found and named after Mount Popa, Myanmar is a new monkey species.

3.Bay of Mexico Whales have been found in the northern area near the gulf of Mexico. These whales are related to Baleen whales. Their dorsal side is black and the ventral side is pinkish.

4. Bradypus crinitus is the second species of manned sloth that is only found in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. This species is found in two regions, Rio de Janerio and Espirito Santo. And are also called southern manned sloths.

5.Thomasomys burneoi has been discovered by Mammalogist Santiago F. Burneo, hence, the species is named T. burneoi. He belongs to the Pontificial Catholic University of Ecuador and spotted this species in the forest of Sangay National Park, Andes, Ecuador. Being 184mm in length, Burneo’s mouse is the largest Thomasomys species in that region.

The Swimming Beauties


1. Poechilocharax callipterus was spotted in a black water stream during 2015-2016 in scientific surveys in Apui streams, Brazil. It’s orange in colour and sexually dimorphic with males having a black spot at their caudal region. Its specific epithet callipteus means beautiful dorsal fin, pointing toward the

2.Poechilocharax rhizophilus, was found on the same survey as P. callipterus but not in black water streams. This species was spotted in the roots emerging from the banks hence called rhizophagous-root loving.

3.Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa the rose-veiled fairy wrasse is a new species of fish found on the coast of Maldives by the researcher Ahmed Najeeb from the Maldives Marine Research Institute in collaboration with the scientists from the California Academy of Sciences, University of Sydney, and Field Museum. Its species name is derived from a Dhivehi word for rose and is the first species to be named in its local language.

Last But Not Least, the Invertebrates


As their name suggests, these animals lack vertebrates or simply putting it, lack a backbone. Some new snails, slugs, scorpions, and insects are at the top of the list of new species.

1. Illyria viridis commonly called Yidiyidi cicada has been discovered in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and has been introduced to the world by Dr Max Moulds who have added 12 new species and five new genera to the group of Cicada.

2.Paruroctonus soda and Paruroctonus conclusus commonly called Playa scorpions discovered by high-school students from the California Academy of Sciences, namely Harper Forbes and Prakrti Jain. These two scorpions are found in the beds of dried lakes in Central and Southern California USA. P. soda has been named so because it was found in Soda Lake, California P. conclusus is so named because it is confined to the region where it is found.

3.Euscorpius complex is a group of closely related scorpions that are now identified as 3 new species Euscorpius latinus, E. stefaniae, and E. trejaensis. A subspecies E. niciensis has also been recognized now as a species. E. latinus is so named because of its range of distribution, E. stefaniae honours the sister of the discoverer for her kind support, and E. trejaensis denotes its site of discovery, i.e. the Valley of Treja River.

4. Goniobranchus fabulus-a small bean if its name is translated to English. However, it is the largest species of sea slug, measuring 1.5 cm only, discovered by Terry Gosliner, PhD.

The list is still lacking many novel species discovered in the 21st Century and it might keep growing in the future only if the conservation of the ecosystem is brought into action.

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