Researchers at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco formally described 137 previously unknown species during 2012, including 83 arthropods, 41 fish, seven plants, four sea slugs, one reptile, and one amphibian.
One of the biggest new discoveries was Trogloraptor, a giant cave-dwelling spider found in southwest Oregon. The species is notable for its long claws. It is so unique that it is categorized in its own family, the first new spider family described in North America in more than a century.
But Trogloraptor wasn’t the only new cave spider found by Academy researchers — ten new Tayshaneta spider species from caves in Texas were also described during the year.
Academy scientists also described two species of herps — a frog and a gecko — from Africa. Meanwhile an expedition to the Galapagoes turned up a new species of deep-water shark, the jaguar catshark (Bythaelurus giddingsi).
The discoveries, which were often made with scientists from partner institutions, were described in 29 different scientific papers.
Terry Gosliner, Dean of Science and Research Collections at the Academy, said that the discoveries help boost awareness of the Academy’s work as well advancing its research into key biological questions.
“The ongoing discovery of new species is an important function of systematics-based institutions like the California Academy of Sciences,” said Dr. Terry Gosliner, Dean of Science and Research Collections at the Academy. “During these times, when we are facing the planet’s sixth mass extinction, species may be disappearing before we have a chance to find and describe them. How can we know what to protect, if we don’t know that it exists in the first place?”