Hold onto your butts because we got more new species than "Game of Thrones" reaction threads.

In 2014-15, humans discovered 381 new species of plants and animals hidden in the Amazon rainforest, according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund and the Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development.

Part of a regular review conducted by the agency, this round included some pretty amazing specimens — a pink river dolphin, a fire-tailed titi monkey, a yellow-moustached lizard, a bird named after Barack Obama (one more species in a long line of exciting creatures and plants named after the former president), and a honeycomb-patterned stingray.


Nystalus obamai in Peru. Photo by Joao Quental/Flickr.

Altogether, that’s 216 plants, 93 fish, 32 amphibians, 20 mammals, 19 reptiles, and one Obama bird.

Besides being really, really cool, the discovery of new species gives scientists a greater look at how our world works. It's a bit like finding a lost piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Each new species gives us new information about how life grows, lives, and evolves. They can help humans too: New species can be sources for foods and medicines.

But with these new discoveries comes a new affirmation of our responsibilities.

This biodiversity needs to be known and protected.

A river dolphin in South America. Photo from Rio Cicica/Wikimedia Commons.

The Amazon is already home to nearly a 10th of the world’s known species, but we're just now starting to scratch the surface. Scientists predict that the vast majority of Earth's species — maybe as many as 80% — have yet to be discovered.

And yet, they might already be under threat. All of the new species in this report were found in areas already threatened by human activity, including a recently blocked mining decree by the Brazilian government. Meanwhile, more than a quarter of the Amazon could be chopped down by 2030, given current deforestation trends.

That's why this work is so important. If we want to save the creatures who live on our planet, the first step is to know just what is really out there.

Photo from Dole
True

As you sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning or grab an afternoon snack, take a minute to consider your food, how it was made, and how it got to your plate.

The fruit on your plate were grown and picked on farms, then processed, packaged and sent to the grocery store where you bought them.

Sounds simple, right?

The truth is, that process is anything but simple and at every step in the journey to your plate, harm can be caused to the people who grow it, the communities that need it, and the planet we all call home.

For example, thousands of kids live in food deserts and areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Around the world, one in three children suffer from some form of malnutrition, and yet, up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten.

Keep Reading Show less

For months, government officials, school administrators, teachers and parents have debated the best and safest way to handle educating kids during the global coronavirus pandemic. While some other countries have been able to resume schooling relatively well with safety measures in place, outbreaks in the U.S. are too uncontrolled to safely get kids back in the classroom.

But that hasn't stopped some school districts from reopening schools in person anyway.

Photos have emerged from the first day of school at two districts in Georgia that have people scratching their heads and posing obvious questions like "Um, they know we're in a pandemic, right?"

One photo shows high school students crowded in a hallway in Paulding County, Georgia. Of the dozens of students pictured, the number wearing masks can be counted on one hand. It's like looking straight into a petri dish.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo from Dole
True

As you sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning or grab an afternoon snack, take a minute to consider your food, how it was made, and how it got to your plate.

The fruit on your plate were grown and picked on farms, then processed, packaged and sent to the grocery store where you bought them.

Sounds simple, right?

The truth is, that process is anything but simple and at every step in the journey to your plate, harm can be caused to the people who grow it, the communities that need it, and the planet we all call home.

For example, thousands of kids live in food deserts and areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Around the world, one in three children suffer from some form of malnutrition, and yet, up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten.

Keep Reading Show less

I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

When people think of the Deep South, especially in states like Mississippi, most people don't imagine a diverse and accepting way of life. People always look at me as if I've suddenly sprouted a unicorn horn when I reminisce on my time living in Biloxi and the eclectic people I've met there, many of whom I call friends. I often find myself explaining that there are two distinct Mississippis—the closer you get to the water, the more liberal it gets. If you were to look at an election map, you'd see that the coast is pretty deeply purple while the rest of the state is fire engine red.

It's also important to note that in a way, I remember my time in Biloxi from a place of privilege that some of my friends do not possess. It may be strange to think of privilege when it comes from a Black woman in an interracial marriage, but being cisgendered is a privilege that I am afforded through no doing of my own. I became acutely aware of this privilege when my friend who happens to be a transgender man announced that he was expecting a child with his partner. I immediately felt a duty to protect, which in a perfect world would not have been my first reaction.

It was in that moment that I realized that I was viewing the world through my lens as a cisgendered woman who is outwardly in a heteronormative relationship. I have discovered that through writing, you can change the narrative people perceive, so I thought it would be a good idea to sit down with my friend—not only to check in with his feelings, but to aid in dissolving the "otherness" that people place upon transgender people.

Keep Reading Show less