Marsupials to meteorites: NHM names 412 new species in the past year 8 Jan 2020

Science writer Josh Davis wondered how many species the Natural History Museum names over the course of the year, and has compiled a list of 419 for 2019. These range from Solanum medusae, a lichen found in southern Brazilian cities, to the pig-footed bandicoot Chaeropus yirratji which has been extinct since the 50s as well as 350 living invertebrates, several deep sea worms, nine new classes of meteorite, a very small beetle now named after Greta Thunberg (Nelloptodes gretae) and fossil species including Rhenopyrgus Viviani which stood on the sea floor 435 million years ago. Documenting this variety feeds a crucial purpose at a time of declining biodiversity. Director of Science Tim Littlewood said “learning how evolution has yielded new species able to live in earth’s diverse habitats is awe inspiring. Sadly, much of that adaptation and biological diversity is now severely threatened and we are losing species faster than we can discover them. Greater awareness of what we’re losing and what can yet be found will hopefully inspire action towards a planet that thrives with our help.NHM