Just in time for the holidays*, it’s the International Institute for Species Exploration’s 2008 “Top Ten New Species” list. So how did the the Arizona State Universty-based Institute come up with this year’s list, including the understandably vexed-looking Mindoro stripe-faced fruit bat pictured above?
An international committee of experts, chaired by Dr. Janine Caira of the University of Connecticut selected the Top 10 New Species. These species were selected from the thousands of species described in calendar year 2007. Nominations were invited through the IISE Web site and generated by IISE staff and committee members themselves. The Caira Committee had complete freedom in making its choices and developing its own criteria from unique attributes of or surprising facts about the species to peculiar names.
Check the IISE’s site for full profiles of this year’s list. They’re also taking nominations for 2009, so let ’em know if you’ve seen heretofore unseen fauna creeping in your yard or undiscovered fungi flowering in your garden. We’re only half kidding about this. Number 7 on this year’s list, a mushroom we now know as Xerocomus silwoodensis, was discovered popping up on the lawn outside a British biology classroom:
This new mushroom species was discovered on Silwood Campus, a campus of Imperial College, London, although it is also found elsewhere (two additional sites in England and one each in Spain and Italy). The discovery of a new species in one of the most intensely studied floras in the world and on the campus of a leading education center for biologists illustrates how poorly species are known.
*IISE actually announced the list back in May, but what the hey. Tis the season for top tens. (via Discover)