Meet the 10 Coolest New Species Discovered in 2012

New discoveries include a glowing cockroach, a human-like monkey and a tiny frog.


The carnivorous Lyre sponge expands to capture prey.

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A sponge you don't want to wash your dishes with, a violet that fits on a penny and a monkey with impossibly human-like eyes top the list of the International Institute for Species Exploration's "top" new species discovered in last year.

The institute, which is dedicated to finding 10 million new species of life on Earth during the next half century, says about 18,000 new species were discovered in 2012. Scientists estimate that they've only identified about 2 million of an estimated 12 million living species, with millions more species existing in the microbial world.

[PHOTOS: Best Animal Pics of 2012]

A committee narrowed down a list of 140 nominated species to 10 based on their oddness, appearance and importance to humans, according to Antonio Valdecasas, one of the scientists involved in the process.

"We look for organisms with unexpected features or size and those found in rare or difficult to reach habitats. We also look for organisms that are especially significant to humans — those that play a certain role in human habitat or that are considered a close relative," Valdecasas said in a statement. "Selecting the final list of new species from a wide representation of life forms such as bacteria, fungi, plants and animals, is difficult. It requires finding equilibrium between certain criteria and the special insights revealed by selection committee members."

Here's the full list:

Lilliputian Violet, Peru

Found high in the Andes mountains, this species of violet was named after the miniature people of Lilliput Island in Gulliver's Travels. It stands less than an inch tall.

Lyre Sponge, Pacific Ocean

Found more than a mile beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean, this carnivorous sponge can expand to capture prey.

Lesula Monkey, Democratic Republic of the Congo

One of only two new species of monkey discovered in the past 28 years, the Lesula Monkey has a human-like face and eyes. Local people had long known about the monkey, but it was described by scientists for the first time in 2012. The monkey is reportedly hunted for meat by locals.

No to the Mine! Snake, Panama

This peculiarly-named snail-eating snake lives in Panama's Serrania de Tabasara mountain range, which is increasingly being used for ore mining, hence the name. The black and white-striped, nocturnal snake is also known to feed on earthworms and amphibian eggs.

Ochroconis anomala, France

The only fungus on the list, Ochroconis anomala is notable because it was discovered on the walls of the Lascaux Cave in France, home to one of the most famous pieces of cave art in the world. The black fungus outbreak has started to obscure some of the cave art.

Paedophryne amanuensis, New Guinea

The world's smallest known vertebrate is this tiny frog—several of them can fit on the surface of a dime. The average length of it is just 7.7 mm.

Eugenia petrikensis, Madagascar

This shrub sprouts clusters of magenta flowers and is found only in the littoral forest of East Madagascar, which has had its span reduced from about 1,000 miles to isolated portions due to human development.

Luchihormetica luckae, Ecuador

This bioluminescent cockroach was found near the Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador. Scientists have only collected a single specimen of it and think it might possibly already be extinct.

Semachrysa jade, Malaysia

Shaun Winterton, an entomologist in California, was scrolling through photos on Flickr when he saw this butterfly and realized it was something he'd never seen before. Its photographer, Hock Ping Guek, was able to collect a specimen and the two collaborated with Stephen Brooks, a scientist at the Natural History Museum of London, to describe the first species ever discovered on social media.

Juracimbrophlebia ginkofolia

This species of hanging fly lived more than 165 million years ago, before flowering plants existed. It was discovered in China's Jiulongshan Formation – scientists think that the fly mimicked the seeds of a relative of the gingko tree.

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