The era of discovery has ended. We’ve charted every corner of the planet, explored its deepest jungles and its highest mountains and, with each year, it becomes more abundantly clear that there just aren’t any freaking dragons out there, man. I think we’ve been cheated!
Though to be fair, we did find a handful of new and real animals in the process, some even as recently as this year. Unfortunately, none of them breathe fire and soar majestically in the sky above, terrorizing local villages, but many of these newly uncovered animals are still pretty gosh darn amazing. Take for example…
10. The “Horror” Wasp
Discovered in: 2011
The above monstrosity was officially discovered during an expedition to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, but it has been observed before… in the nightmares of the criminally insane. The specimen in the picture is a male of the newly-classified Megalara Garuda species of wasp, named after the mythical half-man, half-bird warrior Garuda, the national symbol of Indonesia. It’s also known as the “King of Wasps,” “Warrior Wasp” or the “Komodo Dragon of the Wasp Family.” Personally I like to call it “the definite proof that, yes, Satan does exist and he’s coming for all of us.”
It’s not simply the fact that the Garuda wasp reaches 2.5” in length or the fact that its powerful jaws are so huge they wrap around its head while closed and are longer than the bug’s legs while opened. All of that is definitely a huge part of this insect’s horror-tude, but what really gets me is the fact that scientists speculate that the wasp evolved those powerful jaws to hold the females down while it does its dirty business to them. So, basically, it’s a flying monster rapist.
9. The “Ninja” Frog
Discovered in: 2011
Take a look at this frog. Is it any different than every single frog you’ve ever seen? Does it make you rethink your preconceptions about the very idea of “discovery”? Do you even care? If you answered “no” to the previous questions, then congrats; you are not one of the researchers who have tested the DNA of the above frog and discovered that it’s a totally new species…which lives in New York.
Yes, it turns out that a totally new species of amphibians was hiding underneath our noses this entire time. It all started when a very bored, or possibly very crazy, person noticed that “leopard frogs” from around Staten Island and the Bronx had a sort of different croak than the rest of their brethren. A few tests later and viola, scientists were ready to call the little hopping bastard a new species. Currently they are studying the frogs further to properly name them but, given their incredibly unlikely habitat in which they survived God knows how long, I propose we name them “F***ing Miracle Frogs.” That or the “New Croak Knicks,” I haven’t made up my mind.
8. The “Micro” Chameleon
Discovered in: 2012
No, the picture you’re seeing is neither Photoshopped nor manipulated in any way. It is, however, adorable. The Little Reptile That Could up there is a species of chameleon named Brookesia micra, and it was discovered on the island of Madagascar just this year. It is currently the smallest known chameleon in the world – measuring at just 0.63 inches without the tail, small enough to stand comfortably atop of a match head. Its small size is probably due to insular dwarfism, i.e. what happens when an animal reproduces in an environment with limited food or a large number of predators.
Unfortunately, their most dangerous predator today might be that crafty sonamagun known as Man, who threatens the micro chameleons’ habitat with illegal logging. I propose we save the species by starting an aggressive campaign that will popularize these reptiles as pets. We can keep them by the hundreds in huge terrariums, and pretend it’s a real-life version of SimCity.
7. The “Joker” Crab
Discovered in: 2012
The Filipino island of Palawan is a beautiful place full of enchanting beaches and majestic animals, but to zoologists it’s known simply as “JACKPOT! *cha-ching cha-ching cha-ching*”
About half of all the species found on the island cannot be found anywhere else on the planet, including the above stylish crab, scientific name Insulamon palawanese. Obviously it has earned its place on the list by bearing a slight resemblance to the comic book supervillain Joker (why yes, my virginity is doing great, thanks for asking) but there were also other factors involved, like how we’ve just discovered the damned thing and it’s already endangered due to mining projects going on at Palawan. I’m still undecided whether that’s ironic or just really, really sad (maybe both).
6. The “Crime-Fighting” Gecko
Discovered in: 2011
While we’re on the subject of newly discovered animals which sort of resemble comic book characters (aren’t you tired of constantly hearing about those?), take a look at this newly discovered species of gecko from Vietnam.
The Cnemaspis psychedelica gecko, or “Psychedelic Gecko” is currently found only on the small island of Hon Khoai and so named because of its bright orange coloration. But when you think “psychedelic” do you think about sorta-bright orange and dull, pastel purple? Of course not. And because the gecko’s orange spots totally look like superhero gloves and boots, I still say my name for it is way better than what the so called “scientists” came up with. I should do this animal-naming thing professionally. Someone get me the number of the president of Animal Science!
5. The “Stabbing” Shark
Discovered in: 2011
A combination of both shark and saw must be the greatest example of overkill since the shrapnel A-bomb, and yet sawsharks are a thing that ACTUALLY EXISTS. Fortunately, Mother Earth had a smidgen of consideration for humans who might want to, one day, feel safe enough to actually go into the water, so she made sure there weren’t that many sawsharks around to begin with…or so we thought.
In 2011, the African Dwarf Sawshark (Pristiophorus nancyae) pictured above was accidentally captured in a 1600-foot-deep trawling net off the coast of Mozambique, bringing the total number of sawshark species worldwide to seven. Man, I could have handled six of those monsters but seven is… just wrong for some reason.
Here’s a funny thing about the shark – due to its small size and aggressiveness it’s basically the Joe Pesci of the fish world. It usually hunts by blindly charging into schools of fish, stabbing a few at random with its sword nose, and then returning to feast on the casualties. Wait, did I say “funny”? I, of course, meant “terrifying.”
4. The “Yoda” Bat
Discovered in: 2009
They say we’re living in the Age of the Geek, and there’s no better proof of that than the fact women no longer mace me in the face when I tell them I have a comic book collection. The second best proof of this modern trend is the fact that serious journalists worldwide saw the above picture of a flying orc rat and their minds immediately went to Star Wars. Thus – the Yoda Bat, a name I seriously did not make up.
This little guy is actually called a tube-nosed fruit bat, and he was discovered in the secluded forests of Papua New Guinea. The new species doesn’t have a name yet and it’s unlikely that real scientists—i.e. people who didn’t piddle away their childhoods, adolescent years and adulthood obsessing over pop culture—will cave and actually name it the Yoda Bat. Seriously, Yoda was green, people. Come on!
3. The “Yeti” Crab
Discovered in: 2005
Often mistakenly referred to as the “furry lobster” (a name which, no matter how hard I try to reason with myself, sounds incredibly dirty) the “Yeti crab”, or Kiwa hirsute, is named so for its silky blonde hair-like thingies growing on the crustaceans claws.
Although it definitely looks freaky, the “Yeti” crab might possibly be one of the more complex crustaceans we’ve ever encountered. See, some scientists believe that the crab might actually “farm” certain types of bacteria on its hairy pincers and then either use them to detoxify dangerous minerals from the deep-sea waters it inhabits, or eat them. That’s right, we’re possibly dealing with a scientifically-inclined “mutant” member of a previously unremarkable species, which is also covered in hair. Basically, in keeping with the total-nerd theme we seem to be establishing in this article, this is the crab version of Beast from X-Men.
2. The “Matilda” Viper
Discovered in: 2010
Matilda’s Horned Viper is one the few new snakes discovered in Africa (Tanzania in this case) in the last 30 years, which is weird considering that it totally looks like a cartoon character.
The yellow-green-black slithering bastard with two horns protruding from its head can grow up to 65 centimeters or bigger, and is believed to be venomous. Considering that it resembles a pet which Satan would keep in a locked, underwater safe, I’d say that’s a pretty accurate guess by the researchers who’ve discovered it, though there are many ways to make absolutely sure. Did you know that homeless people are REALLY desperate for cash?
Scientists do claim that the snake is very calm and not at all aggressive. This calms me down none; it simply proves that it this thing is both murderous AND crafty.
But the weirdest part of this newly discovered animal is that it’s been named…after a 7-year-old girl named Matilda. No, thankfully the girl wasn’t its first documented victim, but rather the daughter of one of the researchers who discovered the snake. I’d say that naming a scaly, slimy, horny snake after a small girl isn’t really the best idea, but hey, the guy’s already named his daughter “Matilda.” Not like he was parent of the year material anyway.
1. The “Michael Jackson” Monkey
Discovered in: 2010
The Myanmar Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri) isn’t totally a new species, as it’s been known by some Myanmar locals for some time now, but unless it’s discovered, climbed or invented by a white guy, it apparently doesn’t count. Snub-nosed monkeys aren’t exactly unknown to science, but apparently no species before ever came close to anything like Snubby over here. His nose is so snubbed it doesn’t even deserve that name. Incidentally, it also causes the monkey to sneeze uncontrollably whenever it rains.
If you’ve thought that that last part was adorable just stop reading now, cause it’s going to get pretty sad soon. Seriously, go. No? OK then. The first contact on records that scientists had with the Myanmar Snub-nosed Monkey came from examining the skull and skin of a gutted male of the species… which was eaten by hunters. Unfortunately, the local demand for monkey meat is one of the main reasons why this newly discovered funky monkey is already considered endangered – it apparently tastes THAT good. And after evolution went to all that trouble to make it look as unappetizing as possible…