Check out the most fascinating plants and animals discovered last year.
MALES THAT BELONG TO THIS PUFFERFISH SPECIES WRIGGLE IN THE SAND TO CREATE ARTISTIC CIRCULAR PATTERNS THAT ATTRACT FEMALES.
Photographs by Yoji Okata
WHEN THREATENED, THIS SPECIES OF HUNTSMAN SPIDER USES A CARTWHEELING TECHNIQUE TO ESCAPE QUICKLY ACROSS THE HOT SAND.
Photograph by Prof. Dr. Ingo Rechenberg, Technical University Berlin
TO PROTECT ITS OFFSPRING FROM PREDATORS, THE BONE-HOUSE WASP CREATES A BARRIER TO ITS NEST USING DEAD ANTS.
Photograph by Michael Staab
IT MIGHT LOOK LIKE A MUSHROOM, BUT THIS TINY ANIMAL IS LIKELY RELATED TO THE JELLYFISH.
Photograph by Jørgen Olesen
THIS EXTINCT NORTH AMERICAN DINOSAUR HAD SEVERAL BIRDLIKE FEATURES, SUCH AS FEATHERS, HOLLOW BONES, AND A BEAK.
Illustration by Robert Walters, Walters & Kissinger
ALTHOUGH ONLY RECENTLY IDENTIFIED, THIS RED-AND-GREEN PLANT HAS LONG BEEN USED IN CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS IN PARTS OF MEXICO.
Photograph by A. Espejo
FOUND IN THE WATERS OFF JAPAN, THIS STRIKINGLY COLORFUL SEA SLUG IS ONLY ABOUT AN INCH LONG.
Photograph by Robert Bolland
INSTEAD OF LAYING EGGS LIKE MOST FROGS, THIS SPECIES FROM INDONESIA GIVES BIRTH TO LIVE TADPOLES.
Photograph by Jimmy A. McGuire
THIS NEW SPECIES OF STICK INSECT FROM VIETNAM IS A GIANT AMONG BUGS, MEASURING NINE INCHES LONG.
Photograph by Dr. Bruno Kneubühler
THIS ENDANGERED PARASITIC PLANT FROM THE PHILIPPINES HAS LONG, BUMPY BRANCHES THAT LOOK LIKE CORAL.
Photograph by P.B. Pelser & J.F. Barcelona
Click the full-screen arrows in the upper right to see big photos of the new species!
Published July 7, 2015
For 20 years, divers had wondered what was making mysterious circular patterns on the ocean floor off the coast of Japan. In 2014 scientists uncovered the culprit behind the elaborate designs—a new type of pufferfish.
And that’s just one of the species mentioned on the latest Top 10 New Species list, an annual roundup of the ten most awe-inspiring plants and animals discovered during the previous year. In addition to the pufferfish, the list features a cartwheeling spider, a frog that gives birth to live tadpoles rather than laying eggs (as most frogs do), and a sea slug with crazy-cool colors.
Over the course of history, humans have recognized almost two million plant and animal species in total. Roughly 18,000 new species are found each year—and it's estimated that a whopping ten million more await discovery. However, threats like habitat loss, pollution, and poaching mean some of these species are disappearing before scientists can identify them.
Compiled by the International Institute for Species Exploration, the Top 10 New Species list aims to raise awareness about newly discovered plants and animals. It also inspires people to care for the planet so that all living things—whether already known or still unidentified—can have better opportunities to thrive. That way, humans will have the chance to meet more of the many species that have yet to be discovered.
To read about the supercool new species that made it to the list, click the full-screen arrows in the upper right corner of the gallery.
Text from "Top 10 New Species: Cartwheeling Spider, Psychedelic Sea Slug" by Mary Bates for National Geographic News
Adapted by Rose Davidson, NGS Staff