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10 New Species Discovered In Last 20 Years

In the last twenty years, Mental Floss magazine has introduced us to many fascinating animals that were previously…
10 New Species Discovered In Last 20 Years

In the last twenty years, Mental Floss magazine has introduced us to many fascinating animals that were previously unknown to most people. From monkeys that purr to creatures like the “wandering leg sausage,” here are 20 amazing animals that have captured the world’s attention recently.

1. The Olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina)

10 New Species Discovered In Last 20 Years

Dogs, cats, seals, and raccoons are all part of the Carnivora order of mammals. In 2013, biologists discovered the olinguito, an orange-brown relative of the raccoon. This made it the first new member of this group found in the Americas since 1978. Olinguito specimens had been in museums for years before they were identified as a unique species. Found in the cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia, the olinguito weighs around two pounds and has an omnivorous diet.

2. Six-Gill Sawsharks (Pliotrema kajae and Pliotrema annae)

10 New Species Discovered In Last 20 Years

Saw sharks are named for their long snouts with comb-like teeth. In 2020, researchers discovered two new species in the Indian Ocean: Pliotrema kajae and Pliotrema annae. Unlike most saw sharks with five gills on each side, these new species have six gills on both sides.

3. The Bald Parrot (Pionopsitta aurantiocephala)

10 New Species Discovered In Last 20 Years

Unlike the bald eagle, the South American bald parrot has a bare face and neck. Ornithologists were amazed to discover this unusual bird with a bright orange head in 2002. Even though they only found one parrot, its unique lack of head feathers confirmed it was a previously unknown species.

4. Lady Gaga’s Treehopper (Kaikaia gaga)

10 New Species Discovered In Last 20 Years

Treehoppers are known for making sounds using plants and feeding on plant juices. In 2020, University of Illinois grad student Brendan Morris discovered a new treehopper species named after the iconic pop star Lady Gaga. He explained, “If there’s going to be a Lady Gaga bug, it’s going to be a treehopper because they have crazy horns and a unique fashion sense.”

5. The Vangunu Giant Rat (Uromys vika)

10 New Species Discovered In Last 20 Years

Locals on Vangunu Island in the Solomon Islands knew about a large, coconut-eating rat long before mammalogist Tyrone Lavery confirmed its existence in 2015. Lavery stated, “It’s the first rat discovered in 80 years from the Solomons, and it’s not like people haven’t been trying—it was just so hard to find.” This rat is 18 inches long and weighs 2.2 pounds, making it four times heavier than a typical sewer rat. Its size is enough to make anyone do a double-take.

6. The Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus)

Pygmy Sloth 2

File this under “hiding in plain sight.” Isla Escudo de Veraguas, a tiny island off the coast of Panama, is just 1.6 square miles in size. Like the mainland, it has a population of three-toed sloths. However, the sloths on this island are smaller, and in 2001, they were officially recognized as a distinct species.

7. A Shiny Snake (Achalinus forum)

10 New Species Discovered In Last 20 Years

This stunning burrowing reptile with shiny scales, discovered in Vietnam in 2019, is named after herpetologist George Zug and his wife, Patricia.

8. Goodman’s Mouse Lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara)

10 New Species Discovered In Last 20 Years

Goodman’s mouse lemur, named for its big eyes, is about the size of a typical mouse. Found only in the rainforests of eastern Madagascar, this tiny lemur made headlines worldwide when it was discovered in 2005. It is nocturnal and often sleeps in groups during the day.

9. Greening’s Frog (Corythomantis greening)

10 New Species Discovered In Last 20 Years

Poisons work when swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin, while venom needs to be injected via fangs or stingers. Although poisonous frogs are common, the first venomous frog, Greening’s frog, was found in Brazil in 2015. Scientists knew about Greening’s frog before but didn’t realize it was venomous. When a scientist picked up the frog, it scratched his hand with spines on its upper jaw, releasing a painful chemical mix. This venom is extremely painful and twice as toxic as a pit viper’s.

10. Northern Sierra Madre Forest Monitor (Varanus bitatawa)

10 New Species Discovered In Last 20 Years

The Komodo dragon is the largest lizard and the most well-known type of monitor lizard. Monitor lizards, recognizable by their forked tongues, usually eat meat, insects, and eggs. However, the Northern Sierra Madre forest monitor, identified by scientists in 2010, differs. These 6.5-foot lizards are great climbers and specialize in eating fruit.


Researchers have made exciting discoveries in the last 20 years, uncovering 10 species previously unknown to science. These discoveries span various life forms, from tiny insects to large mammals, highlighting the richness and diversity of our planet’s biodiversity. Each newly discovered species provides valuable insights into the intricate workings of ecosystems and underscores the importance of continued exploration and conservation efforts to safeguard these remarkable creatures for future generations.


Q1: How were these new species discovered?

Ans: Researchers employed various methods, including field expeditions, DNA analysis, and taxonomic studies, to identify and document these previously unknown species.

Q2: What types of organisms were among the newly discovered species?

Ans: The newly discovered species encompass many organisms, including insects, plants, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Q3: Where were these new species found?

Ans: These new species were discovered in diverse habitats worldwide, including rainforests, deserts, deep-sea environments, and remote islands.

Q4: Why is discovering new species important?

Ans: Discovering new species provides valuable insights into biodiversity, evolution, and ecosystem dynamics. It also underscores the need for conservation efforts to protect these newly discovered organisms and their habitats.

Q5: How do scientists confirm that a species is new to science?

Ans: Scientists confirm the discovery of a new species using rigorous methods, including morphological analysis, genetic testing, and comparison with existing species.

Q6: Are there more new species yet to be discovered?

Ans: Yes, many more species are likely awaiting discovery, particularly in unexplored or inaccessible regions of the world.

Q7: How can I get involved in discovering new species?

Ans: While discovering new species often requires specialized scientific training, individuals can contribute to biodiversity research by supporting conservation efforts, participating in citizen science projects, and promoting environmental awareness.

Q8: Are there any conservation implications associated with discovering new species?

Ans: The discovery of new species highlights the importance of conserving habitats and protecting biodiversity to ensure the survival of these newly discovered organisms and their ecosystems.

Q9: Can I name a new species after someone or something?

Ans: Naming new species follows established scientific protocols and typically involves peer review and consultation with taxonomic authorities. However, there are opportunities for individuals or organizations to sponsor or support scientific research, leading to the discovery of new species.

Q10: Where can I learn more about recently discovered species?

Ans: You can stay updated on new species discoveries by following scientific journals, research institutions, and conservation organizations focused on biodiversity and taxonomy. Additionally, museums and natural history collections often showcase newly discovered species and provide educational resources for the public.

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