In 2017, researchers at the California Academy of Sciences, along with several dozen international collaborators, added 85 new plant and animal species to Earth’s tree of life, including 16 flowering plants, three scorpions, 10 sharks, 22 fish, a lizard, an elephant-shrew, and a slew of species with unique names (a butterflyfish named after Donald Rumsfeld and a ‘bat-wing’ sea slug named after Dumbo the Flying Elephant). The scientists made their discoveries in five continents and three oceans.
Shannon Bennett, Chief of Science at the California Academy of Sciences, said in a statement:
Despite tireless efforts to explore from the far-flung corners of the globe to our backyard crannies, scientists estimate that more than 90 percent of species have yet to be discovered — with many going extinct before we even know they exist. We are not only losing members of the tree of life; we are also forfeiting potential breakthroughs in medicine, agricultural pollinators, water purifiers, and many other critical components of a healthy planet.
Here are a few highlights from the 85 new species described by the Academy in 2017.
Bottom line: Scientists described 85 new species in 2017.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. She and her husband live in Tennessee, where they enjoy guitar playing and singing. They have 2 grown sons.
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