Eight Newly Discovered Species
1) What's in a Name?—The Donald Trump Moth
A recently discovered moth has been named after Donald Trump because of its distinctive head covering of yellow-white scales which sit atop its head which reminded the Canadian scientist Vasrick Nazari of Mr. Trump’s distinctive hairstyle. This micromoth belongs in a very large group of moths known as twirler moths, so called due to their tendency to twirl in circles when disturbed. The Trump moth has two traits that probably don’t sit particularly well with its namesake, however, as it is distinguished from its relatives by its exceptionally small genitalia and its native home, which happens to span both California and Mexico.
2) The Prince, The Pauper, and The Shapeshifter—Parasitic Wasps in Mexico
Around fifteen new species of wasps in the phanuromyia genus, a group of wasps that parasitize other insects by laying their eggs inside the eggs of other species, have been cataloged in the southern part of Mexico. Two of the new species are reported to be very similar to one another and so have been given their names, P pauper and P princeps, in reference to the novel “The Prince and the Pauper,” written by Mark Twain. On the other end of the spectrum is a wasp that has such a large range of variable features that they first thought that it was multiple species, and so was named Phanuromyia Odo, referencing the shapeshifting alien that served as head of security on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Although wasps in the Phanuromyia genus are abundant in that area of Mexico, they have been under-researched until recently.
The Woylie, the Favorite Host of the Woylie Tick
3) Tenacious Tick—The Woylie Tick
A new tick has been located in Australia, and it is another new species that is already endangered though not precisely for the same reasons. This tick, the first of its family to be described in a scientific journal for half a century in Australia, has very discerning tastes and has latched on to a small marsupial known as the Woylie, which is where it gets its name. Unfortunately for this tiny gourmet, the Woylie has seen a ninety percent decline in their population in just the last seven years. Although forty-two percent of the Woylies were infested with the ticks, it is believed that the ticks are not spreading a disease, but that foxes and cats are responsible for the bulk of the deaths which is causing the population crash.
4) Tiny Dragons—The Game of Thrones Ants
A pair of ants in Papua New Guinea with shiny, barbed spines adorning their backs and shoulders reminded the scientists so much of dragons that they named them after two of Daenerys Targaryen's three dragons from the popular TV series “Game of Thrones”, Pheidole viserion, named after the creamy white dragon Viserion, and Pheidole drogon, named for the larger black and red dragon named Drogon. Like their namesakes, P. viserion is a creamy white color, whereas P. drogon is jet back. The spikes on the back and shoulders of the ants may be employed not only as defense mechanisms, but it is speculated that the muscles connected to the shoulder muscles may also help to hold up the large head that characterizes the “soldier” ants of the colony.
5) Running out of Room—Angolan Dwarf Galago
Galagos, more commonly known as bush babies, are tiny primates native to the African continent. The most recently identified species was given the name Angolan dwarf galago after its native country of Angola in central Africa. Its scientific name is Galagoides kumbirensis, and it is the largest of the known dwarf galagos at somewhere around thirteen to eighteen inches long, at least half of which is tail. Primate research in Angola has been sparse, and the discovery of a new primate, only the fifth from the African mainland since 2000, is very exciting, particularly as the native habitat for these newly found bushbabies is already diminishing rapidly due to agriculture and logging activities. The forest in which the Angolan dwarf galago was found, the Kumbira Forest, has seen reductions of tree cover of greater than five percent between 2001 and 2014.
Angola Africa, Home of the Angolan Dwarf Galago
6) Hopping Pebbles—The Stone Frog
This newly discovered frog Leptolalax petrops only grows to around two to three centimeters long and makes distinctive high-pitched chirping noises. It belongs to a group of frogs known as leaf-litter frogs due to their tendency to spend most of their time on or under the fallen leaves that litter the forest floor. It can be distinguished from many other leaf-litter frogs in the area by the lack of black markings on the head, the lack of webbing between the toes, and the lumpy, pebble-like skin that gave it the name Stone Frog. Like the Angolan Dwarf Galago, this newly discovered species is already threatened by loss of habitat in its native country of Vietnam.
7) Charming Crustacean—The Harry Potter Crab
Both parts of the name given to this tiny crab are packed with meaning. Harryplax obviously refers to Harry Potter himself, but it is also significant because the name of the man who collected the first specimens of the crab from beaches on Guam was named Harry as well. Harry Conely first spotted the approximately .3 by .2 inch crustaceans in coral rubble, about six and a half feet below the surface of the water, in 1998. He painstakingly collected as many specimens over the next few years as he could which he turned over to the Florida Museum of Natural History in the early 2000’s; it would be nearly twenty years before it would be identified and classified as not only a new species but a new genus as well. Severus also has a double meaning as it alludes to Professor Severus Snape, a fictional character in the series who hid a pivotal secret for many years and it also refers to the Latin word Severus, which is comparable to rough or harsh, as were the conditions under which these minuscule crustaceans were collected.
8) Sorting it all out—The Sorting Hat Spider
Harry Potter and Severus Snape were not the only characters from the world of Hogwarts to get a new creature named after them. A small spider with an unusual body shape has been discovered in Asia; the abdomen of this little brown spider is pointed and somewhat downturned at the end and looks very much like the iconic Sorting Hat that sorts the magical children into their houses. The arachnid was given the scientific name of Eriovixia gryffindori in honor of the owner of the fictitious hat, Godric Gryffindor. This seven-millimeter long spider is an expert at hiding among the leaf litter and can be nearly impossible to discern when in that environment making it extremely difficult to photograph and to study. Although a female specimen has been studied, a male has yet to be located. Male spiders tend to be much smaller than the females and male and female spiders of the same species may look drastically different from one another.