Giant tortoise, huge carnivorous plant among Top 10 new species of 2016
2 of the species chosen this year have been extinct for millions of years
A giant tortoise and a large carnivorous plant are among the Top 10 new species of 2016, along with other recently discovered plants and animals such as a red seadragon fish with pink stripes and a very tiny beetle.
The list was released by the International Institute for Species Exploration this week. It was chosen by a panel of scientists from about 18,000 species named during the previous year in order to draw attention to new species being discovered as others go extinct.
"We can only win this race to explore biodiversity if we pick up the pace," Quentin Wheeler, founding director of the IISE, said in a statement.
"Knowledge of what species exist, where they live, and what they do will help mitigate the biodiversity crisis and archive evidence of the life on our planet that does disappear in the wild."
Two of the species chosen this year have been extinct for millions of years — an ancient human relative from Africa called Homo naledi and a tiny ape called Pliobates cataloniae that lived around 11.6 million years ago in what is now Spain.
The IISE, based at the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry, has been releasing the Top 10 each year since 2008, around May 23. That date marks the birthday of Carl Linnaeus, an 18th-century Swedish botanist who is considered the father of modern taxonomy.
Here's a look at this year's Top 10:
Eastern Santa Cruz tortoise
Scientists used genetic data to determine last year that a group of 250 giant Galapagos tortoises on Santa Cruz Island were distinct from the other giant tortoise species on the island and on other islands in the archipelago. The new species has been named the eastern Santa Cruz tortoise and has been given the scientific name Chelonoidis donfaustoi after local park ranger Don Fausto.
Another huge find last year was Drosera magnifica, a type of carnivorous plant called a sundew, the largest ever found in the Americas. It was discovered in Brazil after an image of it was posted on Facebook.
Unusual ancient human relative
The discovery of a new ancient human relative in South Africa, Homo naledi, made headlines last September. The new species has a strange mix of human-like and ape-like traits — human-like hands and feet, combined with a small brain and ape-like shoulders.
Blind, building isopod
Isopods are the group of animals that includes woodlice or "pillbugs." A new, blind isopod that measures just nine millimetres long, named Iuiuniscus iuiuensis, has been found in a Brazilian cave. Scientists were intrigued by the fact that it builds spherical shelters out of mud to protect itself when it sheds its protective exoskeleton.
A new anglerfish, named Lasiognathus dinema, just five centimetres long was discovered during a Natural Resource Damage Assessment process conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.
Seadragons are related to seahorses. A new species named Phyllopteryx dewysea, which is bright red and nearly 30 centimetres long, has been discovered off the coast of Western Australia.
This tiny beetle was discovered in Peru and has been named Phytotelmatrichis osopaddington after the fictional Paddington Bear, who was also from Peru. It was discovered in water pooled in a rolled-up leaf.
'Laia' the ape
This extinct ape, which weighed about five kilograms, lived about 11.6 million years ago in what is now Spain. Her fossil remains were found in a landfill in Catalonia.
She was nicknamed "Laia" after Eulalia, the original patron saint of Barcelona and has been given the scientific name Pliobates cataloniae.
A new tree species discovered in Gabon has flowers that have intrigued scientists because they are similar to those of completely unrelated plants that are pollinated by bees using "buzz pollination." That kind of pollination happens when bees create vibrations in the air with their wings, and it has never been seen before in this type of plant.
Sixty new species of dragonfly and damselfly from Africa were named last year in one scientific paper, including this one. It's been named Umma gumma after the band Pink Floyd's 1969 double album — and reportedly a British slang term for sex.