6 New Animals, One Fungus and a Tree Added to 25 Most Wanted Lost Species List, Following Rediscoveries
The Earth is full of diverse and fascinating species, and more than 2,200 of them have been lost to science for at least 10 years.
That’s why the Texas-based conservation group Re:wild has launched its “top 25 most wanted lost species” list, and on Wednesday it added eight new species to replace those that have already been rediscovered.
“When we launched the Search for Lost Species, we weren’t sure if anyone would rediscover any of the wildlife on our most wanted list,” Barney Long, who serves as Re:wild’s senior director of conservation strategies and acts as a Search for Lost Species program lead, said in a press release. “Each new rediscovery has reminded us that we can find hope in even the most unlikely situations and that these stories of overlooked — but fascinating — species can be a powerful antidote to despair.”
Re:wild first launched its biodiversity search-and-rescue program in 2017. Since then, eight of its 25 most wanted species have been rediscovered, including the world’s largest bee and a giant Galápagos tortoise, The Guardian reported. The eight replacement species added to the list are equally rare and bizarre.
The new most wanted species are, according to Re:wild:
- The Fat Catfish (RHIZOSOMICHTHYS TOTAE), which was last seen in Colombia in 1957 and “has more rolls than a used tire,” in Re:wild’s words.
- The Togo Mouse (LEIMACOMYS BUETTNERI), which was last seen in Togo and Ghana in 1890 and lives in the rapidly diminishing rainforests of West Africa.
- The Dwarf Hutia (MESOCAPROMYS NANUS), a guinea-pig like rodent last seen in Cuba in 1937 that was one of the first mammals to be described only from fossil evidence.
- The South Island Kōkako (CALLAEAS CINEREUS), which was last seen in New Zealand in 2007 and is known for its song that resembles both a flute and an organ.
- The Blanco Blind Salamander (EURYCEA ROBUSTA), which was last seen in Texas in 1951 and has actually only ever been found once.
- Fagilde’s Trapdoor Spider (NEMESIA BERLANDI), a species of spider from a group whose males tapdance to attract mates. However, only two females of this particular species have ever been seen, in Portugal in 1931. No males have ever been knowingly witnessed.
- Big Puma Fungus (AUSTROOMPHALIASTER NAHUELBUTENSIS), the first fungus to appear on the top 25 list. This species was last seen in South America in 1988.
- Pernambuco Holly (ILEX SAPIIFORMIS), a mysterious holy tree that has only ever been identified via one specimen taken from Brazil’s Atlantic Forest in 1838.
The additions represent the first arachnid and first U.S. species to appear on the top 25 list, according to the International Business Times. They have also generated enthusiasm from outside conservationists.
Michael Edmondstone, communications and engagement lead at freshwater fish conservation group Shoal, said he was “tremendously excited” about the prospect of finding the fat catfish, according to The Guardian.
“Everybody is hoping to learn more about it and, ultimately, put the right measures in place to ensure it can thrive for future generations,” he said.
Re:wild’s top 25 most wanted species are drawn from a current total of more than 2,200 nominations, according to a press release. Since 2017, a total of 67 nominated species have been rediscovered. The list is compiled with help from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission’s specialist groups. Ultimately, the goal of finding the species is to aid in their conservation.
“Species conservation is at the core of protecting our planet as a whole and addressing the triple crises of biodiversity loss, climate change and human health,” Jon Paul Rodríguez, chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, said in the press release. “The Search for Lost Species provides a guide for conserving some of the forgotten species most in need of help.”