Published December 3, 2018
Each year scientists discover about 18,000 new species of critters. Take a look at our three favorites—with a big thanks to the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s International Institute for Species Exploration for inspiration.
NEW SPECIES #1
We're going ape for this newly discovered primate! But even though it's new to science, the Tapanuli orangutan species is actually older than both Bornean and Sumatran orangutans. This great ape is found only in one mountainous forest on the island of Sumatra. Its bone structure and its calls are different from those of other orangutans.
NEW SPECIES #2
What separates the newly identified Central African slender-snouted crocodile and the West African slender-snouted crocodile? Only about eight million years! Scientists think these species split into two when volcanoes arose in Cameroon. Now the central African croc has softer and smoother scales than the West African croc, plus it lacks the bony crests on its skull that its cousin has.
NEW SPECIES #3
When scientists discovered this two-inch-long amphipod in the Antarctic Ocean, they thought it resembled the famous hunchback Quasimodo from Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. See the resemblance? To a penguin, these small crustaceans look like something else ... food! This critter is one of 26 species of amphipods found this year.
Photo credits (top to bottom): Tim Laman, National Geographic Image Collection; Matt Shirley; Cédric d'Udekem d'Acoz + RBINS (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences)
Text by Allyson Shaw, National Geographic Staff
See more of Earth’s weirdest animals and how they stack up against surprisingly different critters in Animal Smackdown!
Take a look at the species that topped the list in previous years.