In 2018, researchers added 229 new plant and animal species to Earth’s tree of life. The new species include 120 wasps, 34 sea slugs, 28 ants, 19 fish, seven flowering plants, seven spiders, four eels, three sharks, two water bears, one frog, one snake, one seahorse, one moss, and one liverwort plant.
More than a dozen scientists at the California Academy of Sciences along with several dozen international collaborators described the new species discoveries.
The scientists made their finds over five continents and three oceans—venturing into river-carved canyons, diving to extreme ocean depths, and scouring misty forests. Shannon Bennett, Academy Chief of Science, said in a statement:
Biodiversity scientists estimate that less than 10 percent of species on Earth have been discovered. Academy scientists tirelessly explore near and far, from the familiar forests in our backyards to remote locations as deep as 500 feet beneath the ocean surface. Each species discovery may hold the key to groundbreaking innovations in science, technology, or society and helps us better understand the diversity of life that makes up thriving ecosystems. These new discoveries also highlight the critical role we play as stewards of our one, precious planet.
Here are a few highlights from the 229 new species described by the Academy in 2018.
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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