This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for simple beginnings that have led to all these endless forms most beautiful and wondrous.
Not that I’m choosing sides in the lumpers vs. splitters war. But can we maybe agree — in this time of mass extinction, worldwide amphibian declines, and bad bat news on the daily — that discoveries of new animals (including fossil finds and a lazarus taxon or two) are awesome news? Remember how excited we were when we discovered Karsenia koreana? (A lungless salamander in Asia, that’s crazy!)
So, I wrote some amateur limericks about new species that were described this year.
Lythronax argestes PLoS ONE
Panthera blytheae Proceedings of the Royal Society B
Among the exposed boulder fields
An Australian lost world long concealed.
A skink on the plateau
Plus a frog and gecko
Are the rainforest’s treasures revealed.
Bassaricyon neblina ZooKeys
Scutisorex thori Biology Letters
Did you know there’re two hero shrews?
And that the silkier one is totally new.
It’s legendary spine
Like Thor, is divine
Cracking tree trunks for larva ragù.
Obdurodon tharalkooschild Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Have you heard of the humongous platy?
With turtle-crushing teeth. So scary!
Some molar remains
Back up these new claims
Do our toothless platypuses envy?
Latonia nigriventer Nature Communications
Bonus: genetically uncharacterized nostril tick The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Bonus oldie-but-a-goodie from 2010: Leviathan melvillei Nature
Hey Ishmael, call me Leviathan
A long-extinct, whale-eating titan.
In Peru they found it
Desert surrounds it.
With a spermaceti organ for rammin’.
With rhyming help from Andrew Moseman