Kiwi scientist judges “Top 10 new species” of the year

A New Zealand scientist has helped select the “Top 10 new species” of the year, with winners announced by Arizona State University today

These include the “walking cactus”, a monkey that sneezes when it rains, a blue tarantula, the “wandering leg sausage” millipede, and other bizarre, fascinating creatures and plants. The panel received 200 nominations – everything from the rare to the unusual and bizarre – and through three rounds of selections whittled the list down to the top 10.

About 1.8 million species have been described in the last 300 years by taxonomists but this is believed to be just a small percentage of what is actually living on earth.

You can read more on the ‘Top 10’ at

Dr Zhi-Qiang Zhang, a mite expert at Landcare Research, comments:

“Part of the reason for doing this is to promote and celebrate the diversity of life and to illustrate that there are still lots more species to discover  throughout the world. And, it’s a valuable way of highlighting the important work of taxonomists who each year discover about 20,000 new species around the world.”

Four of the ‘Top 10’ were first described in two journals (Zootaxa and Phytotaxa) that Dr Zhang founded in New Zealand.

They are the Bonaire banded box jellyfish (Tamoya ohboya) from Zootaxa, Wandering Leg Sausage (a giant millipede, Crurifarcimen vagans) from Zootaxa, Sazima’s Tarantula (Pterinopelma sazimai) from Zootaxa, Nepalese Autumn Poppy (Meconopsis autumnalis) from Phytotaxa.

His favourite from the list is the Bonaire banded box jellyfish.