In the deepest chasms of the Indian Ocean, a mysterious new creature's been spotted, potentially for the first time.
Diver Victor Vescovo was on a pioneering trip to the bottom of the Java Trench -- believed to be the deepest point in the Indian Ocean -- as part of the Five Deeps Expedition, that's being filmed for Discovery Channel.
In the trench's murky depths, Vescovo and his team spotted what they think is a previously unseen species of jellyfish.
They captured footage of the creature, which the team describes as an "extraordinary gelatinous animal" which "does not resemble anything seen before."
Two new bird species have been discovered by zoologists from Trinity College Dublin while on research trips to the Indonesian islands.
The Wakatobi white-eye and the Wangi-wangi white-eye birds may have been found by the Irish team on islands close to each other but they are very different species. Details of their discovery on the Wakatobi Archipelago of Sulawesi in Indonesia are published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the journal in which Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace published their game-changing original ideas about the evolutionary process by which populations evolve to become distinct species in 1858.
For centuries biologists have identified new species at a painstakingly slow pace, describing specimens' physical features and other defining traits, and often trying to fit a species into the tree of life before naming and publishing it.
Now, they have begun to determine whether a specimen is likely a novel species in hours—and will soon do so at a cost of pennies. It's a revolution driven by short stretches of DNA—dubbed barcodes in a nod to the familiar product identifiers—that vary just enough to provide species-distinguishing markers, combined with fast, cheap DNA sequencers.
"Biodiversity science is entering a very golden era," says Paul Hebert of the University of Guelph in Canada. On 16 June, a team he leads will launch a $180 million global effort to identify more than 2 million new species of multicellular creatures. Other teams are also adopting the approach to comb samples for new species in their labs—or even directly in the field. With the world losing species faster than they are discovered, biologists are welcoming the technology.
"For many years I dreamed of changing the rules by being able to bring a portable genomic lab [to] where the samples are," says Massimo Delledonne, a genomicist at the University of Verona in Italy who recently performed barcoding studies in a forest on the island of Borneo that quickly revealed a new species of snail. "Field barcoding is now ready for prime time."
A new cat?! Possibly. The Corsican 'cat-fox' is possibly a new species with DNA distinct from the European wild cat - it's actually more a fox-cat than vice versa. Cute too – look at that tail. I'm hoping the pic below is of a temporarily anaesthetised moggy rather than a late feline.