11 New Animal Discoveries
Some of the many exciting new species discovered in 2013.
Only about 250 of these small primates remain in the world and they are listed as “critically endangered” on the IUCN’s Red List. The Caqueta is threatened by widespread habitat destruction and fragmentation caused by ranching and illegal crop cultivation. In eastern Columbia, they are also sometimes hunted for food.
5. New Humpback Dolphins
When researchers set out to find a new species of humpback dolphin, they hit the jackpot, discovering not one, but two. As their name suggests, these dolphins have a characteristic hump below their dorsal fin. They are genetically unique enough to be classified as different species (also distinguishable from two previously known humpback dolphins). One of the new dolphins, found off the coast of North Australia, surprised them most of all because it had been hiding in plain sight; no one had previously recognized that it might be different from the others.
The joint study, which included researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the American Museum of Natural History, was published in Molecular Ecology in October 2013. The scientists hope that this current research will help conservation efforts to protect the animals. Currently, humpback dolphins are at risk according to the IUCN Red List.
The new humpback dolphins have yet to be officially named. That will be done after separate but complimentary studies confirm the findings.
6. Carolina Hammerhead Shark
In August, conservation geneticist Joe Quattro discovered a new shark, the Carolina hammerhead (Sphryna gilbert) while doing genetic research on divergences in fish found in South Carolina’s major river systems. After examining the genetics of hammerhead tissue samples collected, he noticed genetic differences between hammerhead species.
Outwardly, the new shark is almost undistinguishable from the common, scalloped hammerhead shark. “Morphologically, they differ by ten vertebrae,” said Quattro, who published his findings in Zootaxa. “The [scalloped hammerhead] has ten more, on average, than the new thing we found.” He thinks the new species might also be slightly smaller.
The Carolina hammerheads are found in North and South Carolina, Brazil and Florida; researchers are still not sure if they exist in other regions or how rare this new shark is.