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Unusual Japanese Flower, Rare Great Ape, And One-Celled Protist Among Top 10 New Species of 2018

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A magenta-colored flower that feeds on fungus, a critically endangered great ape, and a one-celled protist that whips a tail to move around are three of the Top 10 New Species of 2018.

The International Institute for Species Exploration of the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry has published its 11th annual list of remarkable species discovered during the previous year.

Also part of the list are three unique underwater creatures, two species of beetles, a marsupial lion that lived 25 million years ago, and an endangered tree that weighs 62 tons.

"I'm constantly amazed at how many new species show up and the range of things that are discovered," says ESF President and IISE founding director Quentin Wheeler.

Around 18,000 new species are discovered every year. However, around 20,000 species go extinct each year.

"So many of these species — if we don't find them, name them and describe them now — will be lost forever," laments Wheeler. "And yet they can teach us so much about the intricacies of ecosystems and the details of evolutionary history."

Wheeler believes humans are solely responsible for the loss of species. Human activities that alter habitats and bring climate change lead to the death of species that we will not be able to bring back.

The List of Top 10 New Species is published every year around May 23 to commemorate the birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist hailed as the father of modern taxonomy.

Here are the Top 10 New Species of 2018.

1. Protist (Ancoracysta Twista)

Found in a brain coral aquarium in San Diego, California, this one-celled protist is not known to be related to any known group of one-celled organisms, leading scientists to believe that it comes from an early line of eukaryotes with a unique genome. This ancient one-celled creature uses a whip-like tale called a flagella to move around and stuns prey with unusual harpoon-like structures.

2. Atlantic Forest Tree (Dinizia Jueirana-Facao)

At 130 feet tall, this tree rises above the cover of the pristine Atlantic Forest. It weighs 62 tons, or 56,000 kilograms, and produces woody fruits that are 18 inches long. Sadly, there are only 25 of these giant trees. They are all rooted in a protected area within the Reserva Natural Vale in Espirito Santo, Brazil. The Atlantic Forest itself is in danger. The forest used to cover 330 million acres of land, only 15 percent of which now remains.

3. Amphipod (Epimeria Quasimodo)

This 2-inch-long, brightly colored amphipod was named after Victor Hugo's Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame because of its humped back, although its ridged spine is more reminiscent of a dragon. The amphipod is one of 26 new Epimeria species found in the Atlantic's Southern Ocean, all of which are remarkable for their vivid colors and unique spines.

4. Baffling Beetle (Nymphister Kronaueri)

The baffling beetle is a tiny hitchhiker that latches on to traveling ants. Measuring 1.5 millimeters long each, a group of 16 of them could line up head to tail and cover only an inch of space. The beetle's body looks exactly the size, shape, and color of an ant's abdomen. When the ants are on the move, the beetle hitches a ride by attaching itself to the ant's belly, possibly using chemical signals to hide itself from the predatory ants.

5. Tapanuli Orangutan (Pongo Tapanuliensis)

Previously, there were only six species of great apes in the world. Two of these are the Sumatra and Borneo orangutans. However, a third new species appears to have diverged from the Sumatra and Borneo line some 3 million years ago. It came to be called the Tapanuli orangutan, the world's most endangered species of great apes. Only 800 individuals are known to roam across a 250,000-acre area in Batang Toru, Indonesia, with the densest population found in primary forest. Males measure less than 5 feet in height, while females are less than 4 feet.

6. Swire's Snailfish (Pseudoliparis Swirei)

Some 22,000 to 26,000 feet into the sea, hidden in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean, is a 4-inch-long fish that looks like a tadpole. Called swire's snailfish, the translucent fish is the top predator in its area. It is the deepest-dwelling fish to have ever been recorded.

7. Heterotrophic Flower (Sciaphila Sugimotoi)

Most plants rely on the sun for food. However, the heterotrophic flower discovered in Ishigaki Island, Japan, relies on another organism to feed it. The magenta-colored flower has a symbiotic relationship with fungus, meaning it doesn't harm its partner even though it relies on it for food. The 4-inch flower is a rare type of flora found in humid evergreen forest. It produces blossoms in September and October.

8. Volcanic Bacterium (Thiolava Veneris)

In 2011, the underwater volcano Tagoro killed off the entire ecosystem off the coast of El Hierro in the Canary Islands. However, a new type of bacteria emerged. Long hairlike structures of bacteria covered in a thin white filament now forms the seabed around Tagoro. Scientists believe the proteobacteria could give rise to new ecosystems forming in the area.

9. Marsupial Lion (Wakaleo Schouteni)

Some 25 million years ago, toward the end of the Oligocene Epoch, a marsupial lion the size of a Siberian husky roamed northern Australia. Unlike its modern-day descendant, however, they feasted on meat and plants and climbed trees some of the time. As prey grew bigger and the land and climate changed, the marsupial lion also grew in size. Researchers discovered the fossil of a marsupial lion in Riversleigh World Heritage in Queensland, Australia.

10. Cave Beetle (Xuedytes Bellus)

Discovered in a limestone cave in Du'an in Guangxi province, China, the cave beetle features a dramatically long head and prothorax, a sign that it has remarkably evolved to suit its habitat. Beetles that live in dark caves often have similar characteristics, including an elongated body, spider-like appendages, and the loss of flight, sight, and color.

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