In the modern world of nature, there is little left to discover. While once a cartographer would have been an amazing job, allowing you to map uncharted and newly discovered territories, the same is true of a biologist who once would have been able to find new species of animals in different pockets of the world. Today as the world is becoming increasingly connected and all but fully discovered, that is more difficult to do. However, every so often, a new species is discovered and the rarity of this discovery makes it all the more enjoyable.
To date, scientists have discovered approximately 1.3 million different species of animals living on Earth. Every year they are able to add nearly a dozen to the list but it is getting tougher and tougher. One of the most recent additions is of the elephant shrew variety. The new species of elephant shrew was discovered in Namibia and measures 7.5 inches in length and about 30 grams in weight. The creature looks like any other rodent from far away but closer inspection reveals a long snout, like an elephant.
Technically the elephant shrew is not even a rodent by definition and is more closely related to aardvarks or elephants than to a typical mouse. They are often called jumping shrews for their ability to jump three feet in the air from a standing position. There are now 17 different species of elephant shrew in existence, thanks to this new discovery. The most recent discovery is the smallest of the 17 and the one that is closest in relation to an elephant itself.
While this new discovery is incredible the discovery of a carnivore is more exciting. It has been 30 years since the last discovery of a carnivore. That means when the recent olinguito discovery took place, the science world was excited. The creature weighs in at almost 1kg and is a native of Ecuador. Surprisingly though, he was discovered in a zoo.
This discovery is less Indiana Jones and more Ross Gellar from friends. It turns out that this particular creature had been in the zoo for some time. However, it was believed to be of the species olingo. Only when scientists started to pay closer attention did they realize that this animal had a smaller skull and longer fur. It was a different species entirely. They journeyed to Ecuador to see if this particular species still existed and found it was still living a great life in the wild.
While the discovery is incredible it means a lot more work is required. Scientists now need to determine the population of this species and see if conservation attempts are required to sustain the population. It is already known that 42% of its natural habitat in the Andes has been removed or altered for agriculture or town planning.
In Papua New Guinea there was a recent discovery as well. A new species of wallaby has been discovered in the area and the researchers there say it is like Christmas. The prospect of charting this new animal, to have to write about its features, its habitat, its behavior is an incredibly exciting and unique moment. It is something that no one has ever done before.
These three discoveries show that the area of biology is still more closely related to the map makers of centuries ago than today. There is still so much to discover in nature around the world and the fact that only 12 new species are discovered each year makes it all the more exciting. For anyone who played Pokemon as a child, this sounds like the perfect job opportunity.