Natural History Museum identifies more than 500 new species in 2021 | Natural History Museum

Six new dinosaurs, an Indian beetle named after Larry the cat, and dozens of crustaceans vital to the planet’s carbon cycle had been amongst 552 new species recognized by scientists on the Natural History Museum this yr.

In 2021, researchers described beforehand unknown species throughout the tree of life, from a pair of large carnivorous dinosaurs referred to as spinosaurs – nicknamed the “riverbank hunter” and “hell heron” – to 5 new snakes that embody the Joseph’s racer, which was recognized with the help of a 185-year-old painting.

With worldwide journey to subject websites restricted, scientists on the London-based museum focused on describing present collections and species that roamed the Earth tens of millions of years in the past.

An illustration of two new species of spinosaur dinosaurs discovered on the Isle of Wight, named ‘Hell heron’ and ‘Riverbank hunter’.
Two newly described species of spinosaur dinosaurs found on the Isle of Wight, named ‘hell heron’ and ‘riverbank hunter’. {Photograph}: Anthony Hutchings

“It has been a unbelievable yr for the outline of new dinosaurs, particularly from the UK,” stated Dr Susannah Maidment, a senior researcher in paleobiology on the museum, who helped describe a few of the new finds. “Though we’ve identified in regards to the UK’s dinosaur heritage for over 150 years, the applying of new strategies and new knowledge from all over the world helps us to uncover a hidden range of British dinosaurs.”

Spinosaurs had been amongst 4 UK dinosaur species described by researchers alongside a new iguanodontian with an uncommon snout from the Isle of Wight, and Pendraig milnerae, the earliest identified carnivorous dinosaur from the UK.

More than half of the new species recognized on the museum this yr had been copepods, small shrimp-like creatures discovered in salt and recent water. They kind a big a part of zooplankton on which krill, fish and different invertebrates feed, taking part in a significant position in the planet’s ecology and carbon cycle.

Due to their abundance, copepods are amongst a few of the largest carbon sinks in the oceans. Scientists described 291 species this yr, many from a group created over six many years by French researchers Claude and Françoise Monniot.

“Copepods should not solely free-living however many are parasites, and they are often discovered residing in nearly each different main animal group,” stated Prof Geoff Boxshall, a researcher in the museum’s division of life sciences who recognized the crustaceans with a South Korean colleague, Il-Hoi Kim.

“The massive Monniot assortment was made accessible to Il-Hoi Kim and myself, and as we’re each lately retired, we theoretically had time to lastly undergo it. Nevertheless, the gathering was so monumental it was considerably daunting – however then Covid-19 occurred and finishing the collection of papers turned my lockdown venture.”

Impatiens versicolor, a new species of jewelweed or touch-me-nots, discovered in east Africa in 2021
Impatiens versicolor, a new species of jewelweed or touch-me-not, found in east Africa. {Photograph}: Eberhard Fischer

Different newly recognized species included 52 wasps, 13 moths, seven crabs, six flies and 5 amphipods. Beetles featured closely, as they did in 2020, with 90 new species described. They included a pair of purple and inexperienced metallic beetles from India, a monochromatic beetle with a big pair of jaws from the Philippines, and a marsh-loving beetle named in honour of Larry the cat, the Downing Avenue mouser.

A new bush-cricket from south-east Asia, identified for its music earlier than the animal had ever been seen, was lastly decided to be a species discovered in Singapore – now referred to as Mecopoda simonodoi – a specimen of which has truly been sitting in the museum since 1984.

5 new species of vegetation from japanese Africa had been recognized: referred to as jewelweeds or touch-me-nots, they often produce delicate pink or white flowers, apart from a couple of species which have switched to crimson flowers to draw birds reasonably than butterflies for pollination.

In addition to the vegetation, eight new species of algae, six parasitic worms and three diatoms – single-celled algae – had been recognized.

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