“Snubby,” the sneezing monkey, is nicknamed for its upturned nose that collects rainwater on wet days. The unusual white-and-black monkey lives in northern Myanmar and can be heard sneezing off its “nose puddles” when it rains.
But the animal has a trick up its sleeve (or should we say nose?). It often tucks its head between its knees when it rains, so it won’t spend all its time sneezing, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Researchers announced the sneezing monkey (Rhinopithecus) to the world in 2010, but it’s one of 211 new species discovered in the eastern Himalayas between 2009 and 2014, according to a new 2015 WWF
Smallest Snail on Earth
A tiny snail in Borneo edged out a species in China for title of world’s smallest snail. The teeny champion (Acmella nana) has a shiny, translucent white shell that measures about 0.027 inches (0.7 millimeters) tall, and it lives on limestone hills on the tropical island.
The pipsqueak is so small, researchers couldn’t see it with their naked eyes in the wild. So they took a few shovels of dirt from the tropical rainforest and looked at the contents under a microscope. A. nana likely feeds on films of bacteria and fungi that grow on wet limestone, they told Live Science in November.
Researchers named a newfound wasp Ampulex dementor, or “dementor wasp” for short: The name was inspired by Harry Potter’s dementors, ghostlike creatures that suck away a person’s happy thoughts (and soul, if they’re feeling ravenous). [See Photos of Other Newly Discovered, But Weird Species]
The wasp eats cockroaches in an impressively scary way. It injects venom into the cockroach’s belly, turning its prey into an immobile “passive zombie,” the researchers told Live Science in May. But the venom doesn’t kill it, meaning the cockroach gets eaten alive by the dementor wasp afterwards.
Skeletorus and Peacock Spider
It’s worth overcoming arachnophobia to get a good look at these two beauties, endearingly dubbed “Skeletorus” and “Sparklemuffin.”
Both are peacock spiders, named for their bright colors and dancelike courtship rituals, Live Science reported in February.
Skeletorus (Maratus sceletus) looks like a cartoon skeleton with its black-and-white markings, whereas Sparklemuffin (Maratus jactatus) has red-and-blue coloring. Both are found in Australia and showcase the diversity (and colors) of the peacock spider group.
(Muntiacus vuquangensis), sometimes referred to as the large-antlered muntjac, is a species of muntjac deer. It is the largest muntjac species and was discovered in 1994 in Vũ Quang, Hà Tĩnh Province of Vietnam and in central Laos. During inundation of the Nakai Reservoir in Khammouane Province of Laos for the Nam Theun 2 Multi-Purpose Project, 38 giant muntjac were captured, studied, and released into the adjacent Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area. Subsequent radio-tracking of a sample of these animals showed the relocation was successful. The species is also located in parts of eastern Cambodia, as well as the Trường Sơn Mountains.
The giant muntjac is commonly found in evergreen forests and weighs about 66–110 lb (30–50 kg). It has a red-brown coat and is an even-toed ungulate. Due to slash-and-burn agriculture, combined with hunting, the giant muntjac is considered critically endangered.
Bigfin squids are a group of rarely seen cephalopods with a distinctive morphology. They are placed in the genus Magnapinna and family Magnapinnidae. Although the family is known only from larval, paralarval, and juvenile specimens, some authorities believe adult specimens have also been seen. Several videos have been taken of animals nicknamed the “long-arm squid”, which appear to have a similar morphology. Since none of the seemingly adult specimens have ever been captured or sampled, it remains uncertain if they are of the same genus or only distant relatives.
Or the dwarf fin whale (Balaenoptera omurai) is a species of rorqual about which very little is known. Before its formal description, it was referred to as a small, “dwarf” or “pygmy” form of Bryde’s whale by various sources. The common name and specific epithet commemorate Japanese cetologist Hideo Omura.
The scientific description of this whale was made in Nature in 2003 by three Japanese scientists. They determined the existence of the species by analysing the morphology and mitochondrial DNA of nine individuals – eight caught by Japanese research vessels in the late 1970s in the Indo-Pacific and an adult female collected in 1998 from Tsunoshima, an island in the Sea of Japan. Later, abundant genetic evidence confirmed Omura’s whale as a valid species and revealed it to be an early offshoot from the rorqual lineage, diverging much earlier than Bryde’s and sei whales. It is perhaps more closely related to its larger relative, the blue whale.
With an estimated mass of only 110 kg (240 lb), T. kabomani is the smallest living tapir. For comparison, the mountain tapir has a mass between 136 and 250 kg (300 and 551 lb). Tapirus kabomani is roughly 130 centimetres (51 in) long and 90 centimetres (35 in) in shoulder height.
It used to be considered to be merely a different phenotype of T. terrestris. T. kabomani can be differentiated by its coloration: it is a range of darker grey to brown than T. terrestris. This species also features relatively short legs for a tapir caused by a femur length that is shorter than dentary length. The crest is smaller and less prominent. T. kabomani also seems to exhibit some level of sexual dimorphism as females tend to be larger than males and possess a characteristic patch of light hair on their throats. The patch extends from the chin up to the ear and down to the base of the neck.
The Tapanuli Orangutan
Pongo tapanuliensis – is a species of orangutan restricted to South Tapanuli in the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. It is one of three known species of orangutan, alongside the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii), found farther northwest on the island, and Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus). The population of around 800 individuals was described in 2017, the first new great ape species to be identified in a century.
(Pecari maximus) is a possible fourth species of peccary, discovered in Brazil in 2000 by Dutch naturalist Marc van Roosmalen. In 2003, German natural history filmmaker Lothar Frenz and he succeeded in filming a group and gathering material, which later served as the type. Though recently reported, it has been known to locals as caitetu munde, which means “great peccary which lives in pairs”. It was formally described in 2007, but the scientific evidence for its species status has later been questioned, which also was one of the reasons for its initial evaluation as data deficient by IUCN in 2008. Following a review in 2011, the IUCN moved the giant peccary into synonymy of the collared peccary (P. tajacu).
The Psychedelic Slug
Phyllodesmium acanthorhinum, a newly discovered kind of sea slug, is only 2.5 centimeters (1 in) long and proud to show off its bright red, blue, and yellow coloring. Specimens have been located in the waters around Okinawa, various other islands, and the Great Barrier Reef.
Scientists have hailed this creature as a missing link between coral-eating sea slugs and those that dine on hydroids, which are microscopic organisms. But these eye-popping beauties aren’t the only gastropods that boast spectacular characteristics.
Although discovered some years earlier, sacoglossans possess a superpower of their own. With the ability to steal energy from the Sun, these solar-powered creatures may prove that slugs deserve more love despite their slime and facelessness.
Ordinary crayfish never wear colors quite as pretty as these colorful crayfish. Imagine walking through your average pet store and suddenly finding one of these beauties staring back at you through the glass.
That’s exactly what happened to German researcher Christian Lukhaup. Even though these mysterious crustaceans have been sold since 2000, no one had bothered to research them. Lukhaup traced their origins to Indonesia.
Generally, crayfish have life spans of about 40 years. These omnivores feed on rotting wood, carcasses, leaves, and insects. The adult crustaceans have no natural predators, but the juveniles must constantly avoid fish and platypuses.
These colorful crayfish—given the scientific name Cherax pulcher—are certainly blessed with good looks, but they are also plagued by bad luck. Their lives in the wild are threatened by the pet trade, habitat loss, locals hunting them for food, and all the other burdens that plague most wild animals.
Glow in the Dark Sea Turtles
The hawksbill sea turtle dwells in the tropical waters of the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans. It is probably the most critically endangered turtle species in the world. As you would expect, these sea turtles swim, eat sponges, and have beautiful shells.
Yet at least one sea turtle decided that it was tired of being an average hawksbill. A team of diving scientists in the Solomon Islands found and filmed the world’s first biofluorescent reptile. This hawksbill sea turtle really does glow in the dark. The scientists also found a community nearby that held young hawksbills, all which glow red. The researchers aren’t quite sure how these miraculous reptiles do it.
With their neon red-and-green coats, they appear to be radioactive and otherworldly. Although we’ve known about regular hawksbill sea turtles for quite a while, only a handful of the glowing variety have been found as of early 2016.
Pig Nosed Vampire Rat
This unflattering name unexpectedly belongs to a small, relatively defenseless rodent with a face that you can’t forget. Hyorhinomys stuempkei is a rat with a large, hoglike nose that lives in Sulawesi, Indonesia. But its most eye-catching feature is its impressively long incisors, which are big enough to compete with Dracula. The bottom teeth of this shrew rat can grow up to 19 millimeters (0.75 in). Researchers admit that they’ve never seen anything like it. In fact, the strange anatomy of these pig-nosed rats sets them so far apart from other species that scientists have categorized them in a new genus. Their big ears are one-fifth as long as their bodies.
They have also lost the coronoid process in their jaws. This leads them to have a weak bite, which is a relief if you catch sight of their grisly fangs. Fortunately for the rodent, they don’t need to chew much when they dine on their normal meals of worms and beetle larvae.
While shape-shifting frogs can’t morph like witches or use magic spells, they are amazing nonetheless. Found in Ecuador, they can change the texture of their skin at will—from smooth to bumpy depending on their surroundings. So far, only two species are known to do this: Pristimantis sobetes and the more recently discovered Pristimantis mutabilis.
These frogs are the size of a marble, yet it is spectacular to see their skin in action. Naturalists Katherine and Tim Krynak discovered one of the tiny amphibians and kept it in a lidded cup to study later. The creature’s back had been riddled with thornlike prickles, giving it the appearance of a punk rocker.
However, once they set the frog on a sheet of paper, its skin morphed to become as smooth as the page on which it sat. Scientists aren’t sure how the frogs accomplish this feat, but their skin structures may allow water movement to change their texture.
Jotus remus doesn’t boast a colorful design or a startling appearance. Instead, the male’s remarkable feature is the unique way in which it attracts a mate. The two front pairs of legs on this tiny jumping spider are normal enough. But the third leg on each side of its body is longer and topped with a heart-shaped paddle.
While hiding underneath a leaf, the male will raise these paddles and wave them around like an enthusiastic cheerleader to attract the attention of a female. Sometimes, the male waves his paddles for hours. If luck is on his side, the female gives chase. Then, after what seems like a game of cat and mouse, the two finally mate.
Throughout the arachnid world, courtship is famously known to be a dangerous business. If the male isn’t careful, his potential partner will turn him into a tasty meal. So male spiders like Jotus remus have developed interesting dances to convince females to give them a chance and, with any luck, not slaughter them for dinner.
Thought to be Extinct but Rediscovered:
The Chacoan peccary or tagua
(Catagonus wagneri) is the last extant species of the genus Catagonus; it is a peccary found in the Gran Chaco of Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina. Approximately 3,000 remain in the world. It is believed to be the closest living relative to the extinct genus Platygonus.
The Chacoan peccary has the unusual distinction of having been first described in 1930 based on fossils and was originally thought to be an extinct species. In 1971, the animal was discovered to still be alive in the Chaco region, in the Argentine province of Salta. The species was well known to the native people, but it took a while for scientists to acknowledge its existence. It is known locally as the tagua.
The okapi also known as the forest giraffe, Congolese giraffe, or zebra giraffe, is an artiodactyl mammal native to the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Although the okapi has striped markings reminiscent of zebras, it is most closely related to the giraffe. The okapi and the giraffe are the only living members of the family Giraffidae.
The okapi stands about 1.5 m (4.9 ft) tall at the shoulder and has a typical body length around 2.5 m (8.2 ft). Its weight ranges from 200 to 350 kg (440 to 770 lb). It has a long neck, and large, flexible ears. Its coat is a chocolate to reddish brown, much in contrast with the white horizontal stripes and rings on the legs, and white ankles. Male okapis have short, hair-covered, horn-like protuberances on their heads called ossicones, less than 15 cm (5.9 in) in length. Females possess hair whorls, and ossicones are absent.
The Hippo Sized Vacuum Cleaner (called)
It might not help clean the living room, but about 23 million years ago a hippo-size mammal used its long snout as a vacuum cleaner, suctioning up tasty morsels of marine algae and sea grass along the coast.
The newly identified extinct animal (Ounalashkastylus tomidai) belongs to the order Desmostylia, the only known order of marine mammals to go completely extinct, the researchers told Live Science in October.
The scientists found four O. tomidai skeletons, including one baby, on the Aleutian Islands’ Unalaska.
“The baby tells us they had a breeding population up there,” said study co-author Louis Jacobs, a vertebrate paleontologist at Southern Methodist University in Texas. “They must have stayed in sheltered areas to protect the young from surf and currents.”
The Terror Bird (called)
Want to be terrified? Imagine a 10-foot-tall (3 meters) flightless bird chasing prey with its hooked beak. These giants, aptly named terror birds, lived in South America from about 50 million to 1.8 million years ago, and likely sent any animal they chased into a stricken panic.
In April, researchers announced they had discovered a new species of terror bird (Llallawavis scagliai) off the eastern coast of Argentina. The 3.5-million-year-old specimen is the most complete terror bird fossil on record, with about 90 percent of its bones intact.
An analysis of its inner ear structures suggests L. scagliai heard low-frequency sounds, meaning it could hear the low rumble of its prey’s footsteps hitting the ground from far away, the researchers told Live Science in April.