On December 5, 2019, researchers at the California Academy of Sciences announced the addition of 71 new plant and animal species to Earth’s tree of life. The new species for 2019 include 17 fish, 15 geckos, eight flowering plants, six sea slugs, five arachnids, four eels, three ants, three skinks, two skates, two wasps, two mosses, two corals, and two lizards.
The academy scientists, along with many more international collaborators, discovered these new plants and animals across 5 continents and 3 oceans, from Croatian caves, extreme ocean depths and savanna forests. Shannon Bennett is Academy Chief of Science. She said in a statement:
Despite decades of tirelessly scouring some of the most familiar and remote places on Earth, biodiversity scientists estimate that more than 90% of nature’s species remain unknown. A rich diversity of plants and animals is what allows life on our planet to thrive: the interconnectedness of all living systems provides collective resilience in the face of our climate crisis. Each newly discovered species serves as an important reminder of the critical role we play in better understanding and preserving these precious ecosystems.
Below are a few highlights from the 71 new species described by the Academy in 2019.
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. Today, as an EarthSky.org Editor, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She and her husband live in Tennessee, where they enjoy guitar playing and singing. They have 2 grown sons.
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