FROM AN ARMOURED SLUG TO A MOUNTAIN MONKEY; OVER 500 NEW SPECIES DESCRIBED BY UK SCIENTISTS
Scientists at the Natural History Museum, London, have put out a report detailing the weird and wonderful news species they identified in 2020, from slugs to monkeys, minerals to mini-terrantulas.
Despite the museum having to close because of COVID researchers and scientists continued working where they could, identifying 503 new species. These were mostly invertebrates but include a diverse range from a giant wombat-like marsupial, tiny copepods, a plethora of beetles (170), a praying mantis, an emerald-green moth, reptiles, amphibians, snails, bees, seaweeds and lichen. They consider the highlight to be a new species of monkey, now called the Popa Langur after the mountain on which it is found. Already critically endangered, with only 200-260 individuals left in the wild, the Senior Curator in charge of mammals, Roberta Portela Miquez said "The hope is that by giving this species the scientific status and notoriety it merits, there will be even more concerted efforts in protecting this area and the few other remaining populations."
Amongst the discoveries were ten new mineral species from all around the world, including the emerald green 'Kernowite' from just a single location in Cornwall that has now been destroyed.
Speaking about the collection overall, Dr Tim Littlewood, Executive Director of Science at the Museum said,
"Once again, an end of year tally of new species has revealed a remarkable diversity of life forms and minerals hitherto undescribed ... Revealing new and undescribed species not only sustains our awe of the natural world, it further reveals what we stand to lose and helps estimate the diversity we may lose even before it's discovered. Our understanding of the natural world's diversity is negligible and yet we depend on its systems, interconnectedness and complexity for food, water, climate resilience and the air we breathe ... It feels like a race to document what we are losing. 503 newly discovered species reminds us we represent a single, inquisitive, and immensely powerful species with the fate of many others in our hands."