1. The Yoda Bat
In 2010, a tube-nosed fruit bat with an appearance reminiscent of the Star Wars Jedi Master Yoda was discovered in a remote rainforest. The bat, along with an orange spider and a yellow-spotted frog, is among a host of new species found in a region of Papua, New Guinea. More than 200 animals and plants were revealed for the first time after two months of surveying in the rugged and little-explored Nakanai and Muller mountain ranges that year. (Link | Via)
Scientists are claiming they have discovered a new species of monkey living in the remote forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo -- an animal well-known to local hunters but until now, unknown to the outside world. In a paper published in the open-access journal Plos One, the scientists describe the new species that they call Cercopithecus Lomamiensis, known locally as the Lesula, whose home is deep in central DR Congo's Lomami Forest basin. The scientists say it is only the second discovery of a monkey species in 28 years.
In an age where so much of the earth's surface has been photographed, digitized, and placed on a searchable map on the web discoveries like this one by a group of American scientists seems like a throwback to another time. (Link | Via)
3. Mr. Blobby
Affectionately nicknamed "Mr. Blobby," this fathead sculpin fish was discovered in 2003 in New Zealand during a Census of Marine Life expedition, according to the Australian Museum in Sydney. Fathead sculpins—named for their large, globe-like heads and floppy skin—live in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans at depths of between about 330 feet (100 meters) to 9,200 feet (2,800 meters). (Link)
4. Penis Snake
A group of engineers building a dam in the Amazon recently discovered an Atretochoana eiseltiis, better known as a caecilian, which some people might know as a limbless amphibian. But let's be honest, the creature pictured above is a penis snake. The strange creature was discovered while the Madeira River was being drained as part of a damn building project in Brazil's Madeira River. Biologist Julian Tupan said that six penis snakes were found at the bottom of the river. (Link)
5. Pinocchio Frog
This Pinocchio-like tree frog species was discovered by fortunate accident when it ventured into a Foja Mountains camp kitchen and perched on a bag of rice, where herpetologist Paul Oliver of Australia's University of Adelaide spotted it. Oliver was unable to find another of these frogs, and suspects that they stay mostly in the treetops.
The male frog's nose, the scientists were surprised to discover, points upward when the animal's calling and hangs flaccid when it's not. "Exactly what it is for, no one really knows for sure," Oliver said. (Link)
6. Chinchilla tree rat
The chinchilla tree rat (Cuscomys ashaninka) was discovered in 1997 during RAP expeditions that targeted Peru's Vilcabamba mountain range, very close to the famous ruins of Machu Picchu. It is pale grey in colour, possesses a stocky build, has large claws, and is characterized by a white stripe along its head. It is related to the chinchilla rats which are known to have been buried alongside the Inca people in their tombs. (Link)
7. Leaf-Nosed Bat
A new species of bat has been found in Chu Mom Ray National Park. Apparently this bat was mistaken for a known species in 2008, but has since been proven genetically distinct. (Link)
8. Cyclops Shark
An extremely rare cyclops shark, recently confirmed in Mexico, is one of the oddest life-forms found in 2011. The 22-inch-long (56-centimeter-long) fetus has a single, functioning eye at the front of its head, scientists announced. The eye is a hallmark of a congenital condition called cyclopia, which occurs in several animal species, including humans. Scientists have documented cyclops shark embryos a few times before, said Jim Gelsleichter, a shark biologist at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. The fact that none have been caught outside the womb suggests that cyclops sharks don't survive long in the wild. (Link)
9. The flamingo tongue snail
This flamingo tongue snail, Cyphoma gibbosum, from the British West Indies is one of thousands of new species uncovered as part of the first Census of Marine Life.
A 2005 Census of Marine Life expedition to the Arctic Ocean captured a so-called sea angel, Clione limacina, at about 1,148 feet (350 meters) underwater. Despite its nickname, this little angel apparently doesn't mind showing a little skin. It's actually a naked snail without a shell, scientists said in December 2009.
Such marine snails—most of them the size of a lentil—are widely eaten by many species, making them the "potato chip" of the oceans, biologist Gretchen Hofmann, of the University of California, said in a 2008 statement. (Link)
11. Pink Nillipede
Able to shoot cyanide, this millipede is tough enough to wear pink. First documented in 2007, the shocking pink dragon millipede--yes, that's its real name--is among more than a thousand new species found in the Greater Mekong region in the last ten years, WWF announced on December 15, 2008. Far from a fashion statement, the animal's bright color probably warns predators of the millipede's toxicity. (Link)
12. Gunnison Sage-Grouse
Restricted to Colorado, the Gunnison Sage-Grouse was only recently realized to be a species separate from the Greater Sage-Grouse. The two species differ in size, display ornaments, and breeding displays. (Link | Via | Photo)