Though many animals and plants are at risk of going extinct, that doesn't mean we aren't finding new ones. In fact, new species are being discovered all the time. In 2015, over 100 new plant and animal species were discovered by the California Academy of Sciences researchers alone.

And though some of these might sound more like Dungeons and Dragons monsters, they are most definitely real creatures.



GIF via Nerdist.

Researchers discovered new species of Dracula ants.

These tiny ants really do earn their name. They suck hemolymph — the insect equivalent of blood — from their own young. And, like their namesake, you're not likely to see them running around in the sunshine. These tiny ants prefer to live in tunnels and pockets under the forest floor.

+2 to hit, AC 14. Image by the California Academy of Sciences, used with permission.

They were discovered by Dr. Brian Fisher, the California Academy of Sciences' resident ant expert.

These weren't the only vampires discovered this year. Two species of brightly-colored Javanese vampire crabs were scientifically cataloged this year after researchers spotted them in an aquarium store. Locals had known about them and sold them as pets for years before scientists had a chance to investigate.

How about some slugs that look like they're ready for Mardi Gras.

+1 to hit, applies poison. Doto splendidisima. Image by the California Academy of Sciences, used with permission.

Researcher Terry Gosliner's team found nine new species of nudibranchs — a kind of ooo-la-la-looking sea slug. Two were even found during student training exercises, and three of the new species were found in one particular spot in the Philippines.

"It was like an underwater Easter egg hunt. It was one of the most exciting scientific dives of my 50-year career," said Gosliner.

Nudibranchs can come in a startling variety of colors and shapes (including our bulbous friend up at the top) and can be quite poisonous. Some can even steal stinging nematocyst cells from jellyfish; some can steal chloroplasts from algae too. This means they can photosynthesize like a plant!

They found strange and spooky sharks and rays.

AC 16, 1d4 electric attack. This is a common torpedo — a relative of the new species. The new species is much less colorful. Image from Roberto Pillon/FishBase.

Another researcher, David Ebert, spent his year finding rare, unknown sharks. Ebert found ghost sharks, a deep-sea catshark, and an electric torpedo ray.

"Torpedo rays have an amazing set of defenses," said Ebert. "These rays can discharge a powerful electric shock of 45 volts — enough to knock down a human adult."

These weren't the only shark species discovered this year. Researcher Victoria Vásquez discovered the ninja lanternshark. Its body was also stored at the California Academy of Sciences.

The ninja lanternshark is a small, sleek, black shark that lives in the deep ocean. Glow-in-the-dark organs help them camouflage themselves in the darkness.

And 10 little goblin spiders.

+3 to hit, save vs. fear. This related species goblin spider is found in western Europe. Image via Arnaud Henrard, Rudy Jocqué, and Barbara C. Baehr/Wikimedia Commons.

"Small-but-mighty goblin spiders are extremely unusual," said researcher Charles Griswold. "Unlike most spiders that spin webs above the ground and hunt above the leaves, these goblins exist in darkness. They use their tough armor to bulldoze their way through the substrate, parting leaves and soil as easily as a fish moves through water."

Griswold and his team found 10 new species of these incredibly tiny spiders living in Madagascar.

These are only a handful of the thousands of species discovered last year alone.

Original images from Pop Culture Geek/Flickr and Jonathan W. Armbruster/Wikimedia Commons.

It wasn't just the one academy working on this; people around the world discovered new species this year. There was a frog that looks suspiciously like Kermit the Frog and a catfish that bore an uncanny resemblance to Greedo, an alien from "Star Wars" (above).

Some of the discoveries were made by field expeditions, but others relied on tracking down and analyzing DNA samples. One group of researchers from the University of Basel even identified a new species of cicada by listening to its song.


Image from TED-Ed/Tumblr.

These incredible discoveries are a glimpse at a hidden world.

The Age of Discovery might have ended in the 18th century, but for biologists, there's still a lot to find. So far, humanity has discovered and named over a million species of plants, animals, and other forms of life.

But that might be only about a tenth of what's actually out there. There's still a lot more left.


A dumbo octopus — who knows what amazing looking species will be discovered next? Image via oceanexplorergov/YouTube.

True

Thank you to these #Tokyo2020 hopefuls who have shown that they are more than just good at their sport, but also good to their communities. Let's follow their lead.

Join P&G Good Everyday to do more good together.

Throughout his basketball career Michael Jordan has been criticized for not letting his voice be heard when it came to political change. That does not appear to be the case anymore. In the month of June alone, Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand have donated $100 million dollars to organizations committed to race equality. A portion of the funds will be allocated to organizations helping to protect black voting rights.

In the latest announcement, Jordan himself and his Jordan Brand are investing $2.5 in organizations to help combat Black voter suppression. In a statement from the Jordan Brand, it was announced: $1 million dollars is being donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. and $1 million to the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People and Families Movement. The Black Voters Matter organization will receive $500,000 in the statement which was first reported by CNN.


Keep Reading Show less
True

The United Nations is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great challenge, including the worst global health crisis in its history. Will it bring the world closer together? Or will it lead to greater divides and mistrust?

Share your vision for shaping the future: take this 1-minute survey. Your responses to this survey will inform global priorities now and going forward.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a badass in the movies, but he's increasingly building a reputation as a heroic "action star" in real life. Only, instead of dropping ungodly amounts of fake bullets into his enemies, Schwarzenegger has been dropping rhetorical bombs against his political opponents while building intellectual and emotional bridges to those who disagree with him but still have open hearts and minds.

The most recent example found Arnold responding to a comment someone made on Facebook. On the surface, that may sound like just about the least unique or original jumping off point for a story.




Keep Reading Show less

Those of us who grew up in the Alanis Morissette angst era and followed her through her transformation into a more enlightened version of herself may be thrilled to know she has a new album out. Such Pretty Forks in the Road is her first album in eight years—and the first since two of her three children were born.

Anyone who's been working from home with kids knows that we're all in the same frequently interrupted boat. Such is the pandemic life. But we've also seen how those very human moments when kids insert themselves into life are some of the most real and precious. And that reality comes shining through in Morissette's Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon performance of her new song, "Ablaze," which is, not so ironically, a song about her children. As she sings, it's clear that she's still got the chops that made her famous. It's also clear that her 4-year-old daughter, Onyx, just sees her mommy as mommy and not as the iconic pop star that she is. The performance is lovely and sweet, and hearing Onyx's little voice and seeing her put her hand over her mom's mouth as she sings is just too adorably real.

Keep Reading Show less