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Beetles Top Latest Inventory of Newly Discovered Species

2009 New Species Word Cloud

More than half of the 19,232 species newly known to science in 2009 (the most recent calendar year of compilation) were insects. 9,738 or 50.6 percent of the newly discovered species in 2009 were insects according to the 2011 State of Observed Species (SOS) report released Jan. 18 by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. The word cloud above visually represents the number of species in each category discovered and officially described in 2009.

Of the newly discovered insects many of them (about 36%) were beetles. Over 3,485 new beetle species were discovered in 2009. This is not surprising as beetles are extremely common on Earth. Scientists estimate that 25% off all known life forms on Earth are beetles. British geneticist and evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane is quoted as saying that the Creator, if he exists, has "an inordinate fondness for beetles."

Here are some more highlights of the report:
  • Almost 24% of the new vascular plant species discovered in 2009 were in the monocot order Asparagales, which includes orchids, hyacinths, irises, daffodils, amaryllis, allium, aloe and, of course, asparagus.
  • Year to year, the largest order of newly discovered insects is the beetles, and, 2009 was no exception. 3,485 new beetle species (Coleoptera) were officially described including rove beetles (568), ground beetles (421), long-horned beetles (369), leaf beetles (356) and scarabs (288).
  • Only 41 new living mammal species were officially described in 2009 and of those, 83% were either bats (44%) or rodents (39%). Almost 90% (133) of the new living amphibian species described in 2009 were frogs.
  • There was almost five times more fossil bird species (34) newly described in 2009 than living birds (seven).
  • Typical of most years, the largest number of new fish species was in the order Perciformes and 29% of those were in the families Gobiidaw (22) and Cichlidae (11). Gobies include some of the tiniest fish on Earth, and the cichlids include some of the most popular aquarium fish, including the angelfish and damselfish.
  • Of the 626 newly described living crustacean species, 224 (31.8%) were in the order Decapoda, which includes crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns and shrimp.
  • The Colubridae is the largest family of snakes and in 2009, almost 65% of the newly described living snakes were colubrids. In addition to 31 new snakes, new reptile species (living) included 38 lizards, 29 geckos, 12 iguanas, five chameleons and two turtles.
  • More than 13% of the new fungus species (living) described in 2009 were gilled mushrooms in the order Agaricales (178). Of the mushrooms, more than one-fifth (21.3%) were in the family Marasmiaceae, which includes shiitake mushrooms.
Photo: International Institute for Species Exploration/Arizona State University

Posted on January 18, 2012

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