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Slide Show: Top 10 New Species Discovered in 2008

From the smallest sea horse to a naturally decaffeinated coffee tree, the International Institute for Species Exploration's annual top 10 list proves that Earth is still full of bizarre and fascinating plants and animals awaiting human discovery

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EXTRA-HOLD BACTERIA

Spray-on bacteria? Indeed. Japanese researchers discovered a new breed of bacteria that lives—and thrives—in hair spray. The strain, Microbacterium hatanois , was isolated from hair spray and is known as an extremophile because of its ability to live in extreme environments.....[ More ]

DECAF--AU NATUREL

The charrier coffee plant ( Coffea charrieriana ) is the first natural caffeine-free java plant from Central Africa. Found in Cameroon, the plant was growing in the Bakossi Forest Reserve in Southwest Province.....[ More ]

LIVE-BIRTH FISH

Although the mother fish ( Materpiscis attenboroughi ) is about 380 million years old—and seems to have died out with other inhabitants of the Devonian period— its discovery was still one for the books.....[ More ]

TRUE BLUE

This new damselfish, the deep blue chromis ( Chromis abyssus ), has kept its vivid blue spots well hidden from humans, hanging around reefs and rock outcroppings below 375 feet (115 meters) in the western Pacific region around Palau, an island country east of the Philippines.....[ More ]

SWIRLING SNAIL

The shell of the fantastic Opisthostoma vermiculum snail looks rather more like an elaborate Dr. Seuss instrument than a product of Darwinian evolution. Although most snails slither under a spiral shell that wraps tightly around a single axis as it grows, this new species, discovered in Malaysia, boasts four separate axes—making it the most convoluted snail known.....[ More ]

SPOOKY SLUG

The ghost slug ( Selenochlamys ysbryda ) surprised researchers, who hardly expected to come across a novel creature in well-combed Wales. Nevertheless, the slug—discovered in a Cardiff garden—is actually carnivorous, rather than a plant and detritus muncher like most other slugs, a report from the BBC noted.....[ More ]

SLIGHT SLITHER

Ophidiophobes, take heart. Researchers have discovered the world's smallest snake. Tiny enough to slither on the face of a quarter, the Barbados threadsnake ( Leptotyphlops carlae ) slinks in at about 4.1 inches (10.4 centimeters) long.....[ More ]

SCALED-DOWN SEA HORSE

This smallest sea horse swims in at an average length of just 0.54 inch (13.7 millimeters). Discovered off the coast of the Derawan Island in Indonesian Borneo, Satomi's pygmy sea horse ( Hippocampus satomiae ) comes out a nose-length smaller than the Hippocampus denise , which was discovered in 2003 at an average of 0.63 inch long (16 millimeters).....[ More ]

STRETCH BUG

Don't mistake this lanky insect for a plain old stick. At 22.3 inches (56.7 centimeters) from end to end, it is officially the longest insect in the world, notes the IISE. It even beat out former record holder Phobaeticus kirbyi (about 21 inches, or 53 centimeters).....[ More ]

FLOWER FATALE

This massive, 60-foot- (18.3-meter-) tall palm plant flowers only once in its 35- to 50-year life, but to put on such a show saps so much of its energy that it causes the plant to die soon afterward. ....[ More ]

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