Top 10 new species unveiled

A little Aussie critter has made the Top 10 list of new species for 2015. But don’t expect to see him hopping around your backyard – you’ll have to go deep sea diving to find him.

Meet the X-Phyla or Dendrogramma enigmatica.

X-Phyla double final

The X-Phyla was found on the sea floor, 1000 metres deep off Point Hicks in Victoria.

It’s a multicellular animal that looks like a mushroom, with a mouth at the end of the ‘stem’ and the other end in the form of a flattened disc. According to the international taxonomists who compiled the list of new species, the X-Phyla is related to jellyfish, corals, sea anemones and hydras or comb jellies or both. But the new animal could also be an entirely new phylum. It also resembles fossils from Precambrian time, perhaps making it a type of living fossil. It’s a small creature with a stalk less than 8 millimetres long and a cap that measures less than 11 millimetres across.

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A cartwheeling spider, a bird-like dinosaur and a fish that wriggles around on the sea floor to create a circular nesting site are among the other new species on the list of top ten. Two animals – a frog that gives birth to tadpoles and a wasp that uses dead ants to protect its nest – are unusual because of their parenting practices. Also on the  list is a 9-inch walking stick and a photogenic sea slug. Rounding out the top 10 are a coral plant described as endangered almost as soon as it was discovered and a red-and-green plant used during Christmas celebrations in Mexico.

The list of the Top 10 New Species is compiled annually by ESF’s International Institute for Species Exploration. The institute’s international committee of taxonomists selected the Top 10 from among the approximately 18,000 new species named during the previous year.

The list is released to coincide with the birthday on 23 May of Carolus Linnaeus, an 18th century Swedish botanist who is considered the father of modern taxonomy. You can click here to see pictures of all ten of the new species on the list.

In an era when we’re trying to protect so many endangered species, isn’t it great to see 18,000 new species being named? What do you think of our new Aussie creature the X-Phyla?