The world's smallest known snake. The world's longest known insect. An "extremophile" bacteria that lives in hairspray. A rare palm found only in Madagascar that produces countless flowers just before it collapses and dies.
These are just three of the thousands of new species that were discovered last year.
And these three unique lifeforms have also made the annual Top 10 New Species list issued by the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at Arizona State University.
In the 18th century, Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus launched the modern system for naming plants and animals, based on binomial nomenclature. Since then about 1.8 million different species have been described using the Linnaean taxonomy.
But that's just a fraction of the actual number of species on the planet, which most scientists believe is around 10 million.
"Most people do not realize just how incomplete our knowledge of Earth's species is," said entomologist and IISE director Quentin Wheeler in a statement. "We are surrounded by such an exuberance of species diversity that we too often take it for granted."
- Do these ten things recommended by Countdown 2010 to help stop biodiversity loss
- Support Conservation International campaigns to protect biodiversity hotspots around the world
- Sign a petition to the United Nations to show your support of biodiversity
- The Missing Link (May 21, 2009)
- The Air That We Breathe (April 15, 2009)
- The Shadow Lives of Others (March 3, 2009)
- The Common Ancestor of All Life on Earth (December 21, 2008)