Washington, May 23 (EFE).– An American college on Wednesday announced its list of the 10 most important species of lifeforms discovered last year, which includes an extinct marsupial lion from Australia and a majestic tree found in Brazil.
The State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry published the list, compiled by the college’s International Institute for Species Exploration, which also included among its ranks animals such as a rare primate, a hair-shaped bacterium and a beetle that dwells in darkness.
“Many of these species, if we don’t discover, name and describe them right now, will be lost forever,” said ESF head Quentin Wheeler. “However, they can teach us a lot about the complexity of ecosystems and the details of evolutionary history.”
According to the IISE, the new species originate in countries from across the globe, including Brazil, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Spain (Canary Islands), Japan, Australia and China, as well as one specimen found in the Antarctic ocean.
A protist cell was also found at an aquarium in the United States, although its natural habitat remains unknown.
In Spain’s sub-tropical Canary Islands, located off the African coast, scientists discovered the so-called “Venus hair” bacteria, named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, which emerged after the underwater volcano Tagoro erupted in 2011 near the island of El Hierro.
This natural phenomenon increased the water temperature, limited the amount of Oxygen and increased the quantity of Carbon Dioxide and Hydrogen Sulfide, thus wiping out a big part of the existing marine ecosystem and creating new species such as the Venus hair bacteria.
Researchers also found, in the freezing depths of the Antarctic Ocean, a species of Amphipoda measuring some 50 millimeters in length that was christened with the name Epimesia quasimodo, in honor of the protagonist of Victor Hugo’s famous novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.”
The name derives from the crustacean’s curved back, which is also reminiscent of the mythological dragon.
A group of Australian paleontologists in from the University of New South Wales discovered the fossil remains of a previously-unknown species of marsupial lion, which reached the size of a present-day Siberian husky and lived in the late Oligocene epoch some 23 million years ago.
Another mammal discovered over the past year is a rare kind of primate living in an isolated region on the Indonesian island of Sumatra that had until now been believed to belong to the same species as similar simians living in the same area.
An international team of researchers studied these animals in depth and determined that this species, which belongs to the Orangutan subfamily, was distinct from others on northern Sumatra and the neighboring island of Borneo.
The IISE’s list of the 10 most important new species is published every year on May 23 to commemorate the birthday of Swedish natural philosopher Carl Linnaeus, considered the father of modern taxonomy.