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The 10 most exciting species discovered this year

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A male (right) Torquigener albomaculosus puffer fish biting on the left cheek of a female (Picture: Yoji Okata)

A cartwheeling spider, a bird‐like dinosaur and a fish that wriggles around in circles on the sea floor have all been named among the top 10 species discovered by scientists this year.

The Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) department at the State University of New York unveiled its annual list on Thursday from among the approximately 18,000 new species named during the course of the last year. As you'll see, not all of them are still around...

1. Anzu wyliei

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(Illustration: Mark A. Klingler, Carnegie Museum of Natural History)

Three well-preserved partial skeletons of this bird-like dinosaur, a contemporary of T-rex and triceratops, were discovered in North and South Dakota.

2. Balanophora coralliformis

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(Picture: PB Pelser/JF Barcelona)

This parasitic coral plant, discovered on Mt Minganand in the Philippines and almost immediately considered endangered, has "elongated, repeatedly branching, and rough-textured aboveground tubers".

3. Cebrennus rechenbergi

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(Picture: Dr Ingo Rechenberg, Technical University Berlin)

This spider from the deserts of Morocco uses a "gymnast’s trick" to escape from threatening situations - it cartwheels its way out of danger.

4. Dendrogramma enigmatica

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(Picture: Jørgen Olesen)

These multicellular animals from Australia look rather like mushrooms, with "a mouth at the end of the 'stem' and the other end in the form of a flattened disc".

5. Deuteragenia ossarium

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(Picture: Michael Staab)

This wasp found in China constructs nests in hollow stems with several cells, each separated by soil walls, before killing and depositing one spider in each cell to provide nourishment for her developing young.

6. Limnonectes larvaepartus

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(Picture: Jimmy A McGuire)

Unlike other frogs, this species from Sulawesi, Indonesia, gives live birth to tadpoles that are deposited in pools of water.

7. Phryganistria tamdaoensis

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(Picture: Dr Bruno Kneubühler)

This Vietnamese stick insect is nine inches in length and according to ESF is "compelling evidence that, in spite of their size, more giant sticks remain to be discovered".

8. Phyllodesmium acanthorhinum

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(Picture: Robert Bolland)

This sea slug found off the coast of Japan was commended for "graceful lines and vivid colouration".

9. Tillandsia religiosa

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(Picture: A. Espejo)

This bromeliad, used during Christmas celebrations in Mexico, is "an example of a species long known to local inhabitants but only recently discovered by science".

10. Torquigener albomaculosus

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(Picture: Yoji Okata)

This puffer fish (see top image) recently solved a 20-year-old mystery - that of intricate circles found under the sea off Japan's Amami-Ōshima Island which it creates as part of a mating ritual.


More: These species all face extinction

More: 10 of the world's most endangered species

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