We all know about the large number of species going extinct each day (20 to 200), but did you know that 18,000 new species of plants and animals are discovered each year? In true David Letterman style the International Institute For Species Exploration (http://species.asu.edu/) has developed a top ten list of the most charismatic, unusual and bizarre organisms discovered each year. The 2012 members are the Bonaire banded box jelly, the devil’s worm (a nematode found living 1.3 km under the earth in a South African gold mine), the night-blooming orchid (the first plant to do so), the dive-bombing wasp, the spongebob squarepants mushroom, the Nepalese autumn poppy, the wandering leg sausage (a large Tanzanian millipede), the walking cactus (related to velvet worms), Sazima’s tarantula (an iridescent blue Brazilian tarantula), and, my favourite, the sneezing monkey of Myanmar. This monkey, with black fur and a white beard, has such a dramatically upturned nose that water leaks into it when it rains, causing it to sneeze. To avoid rainwater dripping into its nose it tends to sit with its head between its legs. It doesn’t seem like a terrific idea, as hunters find them by following the sneezes, but presumably the upturned nostrils convey some evolutionary advantage? Maybe they stop the monkeys getting cream in their nose when they have Devonshire tea?
Dr. F. Bunny
Sneezing monkey when it’s not raining.