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Christopher C. Austin

10 Awesome New Species Discovered in 2013

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Christopher C. Austin

Geckos and shrubs and sharks, oh my! 2013 was a big year for new species. Scientists found hundreds of them this year. Here are some of our favorites.

1. Cape Melville Leaf-Tailed Gecko

Wikimedia Commons

The Cape Melville Leaf-Tailed Gecko was discovered on an expedition to the northern tip of Queensland, Australia led by James Cook University’s Conrad Hoskin and Harvard University’s Tim Laman, who is also a National Geographic photographer. The gecko grows to almost eight inches long and hunts mainly at night, sitting motionless on a rock or in a tree and waiting for an unsuspecting insect or spider to pass by. The gecko’s camouflaged skin allows it to blend in with its surroundings.

2. Lyre Sponge

Photo by 2013 MBARI

Discovered in the northeast Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, this carnivorous sponge lives mostly in deep water (around 3399 meters deep) and looks like a harp. The lyre sponge—also known as Chondrocladia lyra—has two to six horizontal branches. Each branch holds more than 20 parallel vertical branches that are each capped with a small ball. When a plankton comes in contact with these branches, the lyre sponge is able to catch it as prey.

3. Paedophryne amanuensis

Photo by Christopher C. Austin

Just in case “Paedophryne amanuensis” is kind of a mouthful, you can also call this tiny frog the world’s smallest vertebrate. The frog was discovered near the Amau village in Papua, New Guinea. The average adult frog in this species only measures 7.7 millimeters; that’s small enough to fit easily on the surface of a dime.

4. Cape Melville Shade Skink

The Cape Melville Shade Skink was found on the same expedition as the Leaf-Tailed Gecko. However, unlike the gecko, the skink hunts mainly in the day. The skink’s scientific name is Saproscincus saltus; "saltus" means leaping. While hunting, the skink hops from boulder to boulder in search of insects.

5. Eugenia

Photo by David Rahebevitra

Not all new species are animals. This new species, Eugenia petrikensis, is a beautiful shrub that grows to two meters and has bright clusters of small magenta flowers. Eugenia was discovered this past year in Madagascar.

6. Semachrysa jade

Photo by Guek Hock Ping

Unlike most new species, scientists did not discover the Semachrysa jade butterfly. Instead, an avid photographer took its picture in a Malaysian park. He had no idea that the butterfly had never been documented before. It was only when Shaun Winterton, an entomologist at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, discovered the photo on Flickr that he recognized the butterfly as a new species.

7. Juracimbrophlebia ginkgofolia

Artwork by Chen Wang

This new species of hangingflies was found fossilized in a Middle Jurassic deposit in China’s Inner Mongolia. These insects hung beneath foliage and captured other insects to eat.

8. Carolina Hammerhead

Photo by Save Our Seas Foundation / Peter Verhoog

The Carolina Hammerhead (Sphyrna gilbert) was discovered this year off the South Carolina coast. This new species of hammerhead shark looks almost identical to the scalloped hammerhead. However, the new species contains 10 fewer vertebrae and is genetically distinct.

9. Olinguito

Imagine a cross between a teddy bear and a housecat, and you’ve just pictured an olinguito. The animal, which is a little over a foot long and weighs around two pounds, is indigenous to the forests of Ecuador and Colombia. While it was first designated as a new species in 2013, the olinguito has been hiding in plain sight for a long time—at the Smithsonian-run National Zoo in Washington. For the past several years, scientists believed that the critter housed in the zoo was an olingo. The zoo first became curious when their supposed “olingo” wouldn’t mate with any other olingos. Turns out the olingo wasn’t picky; it was actually an olinguito. It was only during an expedition to South America that the olinguito was discovered as a separate species.

10. Blotched Boulder Frog

The Blotched Boulder Frog was also discovered on the Cape Melville expedition, but it has a unique quirk: the Blotched Boulder Frog only mates in the rain. During the dry season in Australia, the frog lives deep within a boulder field that’s cool and moist. The Blotched Boulder Frog only comes to the surface when it rains.

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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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This First-Grade Math Problem Is Stumping the Internet
May 17, 2017
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If you’ve ever fantasized about how much easier life would be if you could go back to elementary school, this math problem may give you second thoughts. The question first appeared on a web forum, Mashable reports, and after recently resurfacing, it’s been perplexing adults across social media.

According to the original poster AlmondShell, the bonus question was given to primary one, or first grade students, in Singapore. It instructs readers to “study the number pattern” and “fill in the missing numbers.” The puzzle, which comprises five numbers and four empty circles waiting to be filled in, comes with no further explanation.

Some forum members commented with their best guesses, while others expressed disbelief that this was a question on a kid’s exam. Commenter karrotguy illustrates one possible answer: Instead of looking for complex math equations, they saw that the figure in the middle circle (three) equals the amount of double-digit numbers in the surrounding quadrants (18, 10, 12). They filled out the puzzle accordingly.

A similar problem can be found on the blog of math enthusiast G.R. Burgin. His solution, which uses simple algebra, gets a little more complicated.

The math tests given to 6- and 7-year-olds in other parts of the world aren’t much easier. If your brain isn’t too worn out after the last one, check out this maddening problem involving trains assigned to students in the UK.

[h/t Mashable]

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