With 2022 not far away, we thought we’d begin off the celebrations by wanting again to some probably the most memorable discoveries of 2021. And what a 12 months it has been! Many new species made their debuts on the pages of Pensoft journals – right here’s our choice of probably the most thrilling animals, vegetation and fungi that we printed in 2021.
10. The scrumptious wild oak mushroom
It’s wonderful that edible species, lengthy recognized to native communities, can nonetheless current a novelty for science. This was the case with Cantharellus veraecrucis, a chanterelle from – that’s proper, Veracruz, Mexico.
In the course of the wet season, locals harvest this mushroom from tropical oak forests to promote it or get pleasure from it as a delicacy; that is in all probability why they’ve dubbed it “Oak mushroom”.
Revealed in: MycoKeys
9. The grasp of disguise
In case you ever see a leaf insect, there’s an excellent probability you received’t discover it – these little critters are masters of camouflaging.
This image was taken in 2014, when Jérôme Fixed and Joachim Bresseel from the Royal Belgian Institute of Pure Sciences have been having fun with an evening stroll in Vietnam’s Nui Chua Nationwide Park. It wasn’t till this 12 months, although, that this magnificence obtained its personal scientific identify: Cryptophyllium nuichuaense. Named after the park the place it was discovered, it’s one of 13 new species of leaf bugs described in our journal ZooKeys this February.
This leaf insect, like many others, is endemic to Vietnam. For this reason the researchers who discovered itcall for the creation of extra protected areas so as to maintain this valuable biodiversity intact.
Revealed in: ZooKeys
8. The Neil Gaiman spider
In contrast to most spiders, trapdoor spiders don’t use silk to make an internet. As an alternative, they dwell in burrows lined with silk that they cowl with a “trapdoor”. They’re comparatively broadly unfold, however you’d not often encounter one out within the open, as a result of they spend most of their lives underground.
That is in all probability why arachnologists and spider lovers the world over obtained so excited when Dr. Rebecca Godwin (Piedmont College, GA) and Dr. Jason Bond (College of California, Davis, CA) described 33 new species of trapdoor spiders from the genus Ummidia – along with the 27 already recognized.
One of many 33 is Ummidia neilgaimani, named after fantasy and horror author Neil Gaiman. A selected favourite of Dr. Godwin, Gaiman is the writer of a variety of books with spider-based characters. His novel American Gods contains a character primarily based on the West African spider god Anansi and a World Tree “one hour south of Blacksburg,” not removed from the kind locality of this species. He’s additionally a part of the documentary Sixteen Legs, in his personal phrases “A tremendous movie about Tasmanian cave spider intercourse.”
“I feel something we will do to extend folks’s curiosity within the range round them is worth it and giving species names that individuals acknowledge however that also have related that means is a technique to try this,” says Dr. Godwin.
Revealed in: ZooKeys
7. The lethal Chinese language-goddess snake
Bungarus suzhenae was solely described as a brand new species this 12 months, however its fame preceded it – in a nasty approach. Researchers have been already conversant in a infamous black-and-white banded krait that bit herpetologists on expeditions in Myanmar and China – in one notorious case, to loss of life. After in depth morphological and phylogenetical evaluation, the researchers have been lastly in a position to affirm it as new to science.
The story behind B. suzhenae’s identify is fascinating, too: it was named after a personality from the standard Chinese language fantasy ‘Legend of White Snake’. The highly effective snake goddess Bai Su Zhen is to at the present time considered a logo of real love and good-heartedness in China.
Snakebites from kraits – together with this one – are recognized to have a excessive mortality. For this reason the brand new information on B. suzhenae and its description as a brand new species are important to the analysis on its venom and an essential step within the growth of antivenom and improved snakebite therapy.
Revealed in: ZooKeys
6. The ephemeral fairy lanterns
Generally often called “fairy lanterns”, vegetation of the genus Thismia are very uncommon and small in measurement. They’re mycoheterotrophic, which suggests they dwell in shut affiliation with fungi from which they purchase most of their vitamin. They’re additionally very elusive, rising in darkish, distant rainforests, and visual solely after they emerge to flower and set seed after heavy rain.
Actually, researchers have been solely capable of finding one specimen of the brand new T. sitimeriamiae, which they found within the Terengganu State of Malaysia – the remainder of the inhabitants had been destroyed by wild boars.
Simply found, T. sitimeriamiae might already be threatened by extinction – which is why the analysis crew that found it counsel that this exceptionally uncommon plant is classed as Critically Endangered.
Revealed in: PhytoKeys
Half 2 coming quickly – keep tuned!