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2012’s List of New Species Released: Ten of the Coolest Ones Includes a Glowing Cockroach

Update Date: May 24, 2013 12:46 PM EDT
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The International Institute for Species Exploration, an organization that is devoted to discovering new species, released a statement that it discovered around 18,000 new species just last year. Even though that number sounds huge, scientists believe that only two out of 12 million species estimated to be living on earth have been identified so far. Of the thousands of species discovered in 2012, the scientists were able to pick 10 of the 140 nominated species to be placed on the list of the coolest species of 2012. The scientists made their list based on oddness, appearance and the species' significance to humans.

"We look for organisms with unexpected features or size and those found in rare or difficult to reach habitats. We also look for organisms that are especially significant to humans - those that play a certain role in human habitat or that are considered a close relative," Antonio Valdecasas, one of the scientists, said in a statement reported by U.S News and World Report. "Selecting the final list of new species from a wide representation of life forms such as bacteria, fungi, plants and animals, is difficult. It requires finding equilibrium between certain criteria and the special insights revealed by selection committee members."

So, who made the cut? One of the top ten species includes the Lucihormetica luckae, a glow in the dark cockroach originating from Ecuador. The scientists have only found one specimen that was collected 70 years ago, suggesting that this species is either extremely rare, or already extinct. Other insects that made the list were the Semachrysa jade, a butterfly from Malayasia and the Juracimbrophlebia ginkofolia, a fly from China. The Semachrysa jade has a green lacewing with dark markings found at the base of the wings and was first discovered after a photograph of it was published on social media. The fly is known for hanging under foliage in order to catch food.

The animals that were a part of the top ten include the Lesula monkey (Cercopithecus lomamiensis) native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sibon noalmaina, a snake originating from Panama and the Paedophryne amanuensis, a frog found in New Guinea. This old world monkey is only the second species discovered in Africa within the past two decades. This monkey caught the eyes of scientists after they noted that the monkeys have very human-like eyes with bright blue perineum area. The snake was selected to be on the list due to its mining abilities. The snake can mimic the dark and light rings of the dangerous coral snakes in order to defend itself. It is otherwise a harmless snake. The frog was named the world's smallest vertebrate, which measured in at seven millimeters.

The other species that rounded the top ten are the Eugenia petrikensis from Madagascar, Ochroconis anomala, fungi from France, Chondrocladia lyra from the northeast Pacific Ocean and lastly, the Viola lilliputana, a violet from Peru. The Eugenia petrikensis is from the evergreen trees and shrubs and it grows to be about two meters. The Chondrocladia lyra is a huge underwater carnivorous sponge that resembles a harp.

The institute plans on finding 10 million new species within the next half century.

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