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Sounding like something out of Game of Thrones and towering over the landscape, Kaweesak’s dragon tree (Dracaena kaweesakii) amazingly went unnoticed until recently.
"If we did not know such a beautiful kind of tree, standing 40 feet tall, what else do we not know about the flora and fauna of Thailand?" Wheeler said. "This dragon tree stands as a testament to our ignorance of our world’s species."
It is not clear how the ANDRILL anemone (named after the Antarctic Geological Drilling Program) withstands the harsh conditions in its habitat. It's the first species of sea anemone reported to live in ice. The creatures, less than 1 inch long, bury their bodies in the ice shelf with their roughly two dozen tentacles dangling into the frigid water below.
"The new skeleton shrimp (Liropus minusculus) is stunningly eerie in appearance and is a reminder of the unexpected and unusual beauty found in the vast world of invertebrate animals,” Wheeler said.
Distinguished by the bright orange color it displays when produced in colonies, this fungus, Orange penicillium, was named as a tribute to the Dutch royal family.
It’s not easy to spot this gecko, Saltuarius eximius, which has an extremely wide tail that is employed as part of its camouflage.
“I am awed by the complexity and improbability of this single-celled protest (Spiculosiphon oceana),” Wheeler said. “Its use of sponge spicules to build its shell is impressive, but its ability to use them to mimic a sponge’s feeding mode is astounding.”
The unusual species was discovered in underwater caves 30 miles off the southeast coast of Spain. Coincidence or not, they're the same caves where carnivorous sponges were first discovered.
Found in rooms where spacecraft are assembled, this microbial species, Tersicoccus phoenicis, could potentially contaminate other planets that the spacecraft visit. It's a species researchers want to avoid sending into space, but it could already inhabit other planets because it's so hearty.
The Tinkerbell fairyfly, Tinkerbella nana was found in a Costa Rican forest and measures just 0.00984 inches, making it one of the world’s smallest known insects.
Living in complete darkness, nearly 3,000 feet below the surface in the Lukina Jama-Trojama caves of western Croatia, is this eye-less snail, Zospeum tholussum. It also has no shell pigmentation, which gives it a ghost-like appearance.
Even by snail standards, Zospeum tholossum moves slowly, creeping well less than an inch a week.