Natural History Museum Describes Over 552 New Species in 2021

London, Six new dinosaurs, including an Indian beetle named after cat Larry, and dozens of crustaceans crucial to the planet’s carbon cycle the ‘horned crocodile-faced Hell Heron’ are among more than 552 new species discovered by scientists at the Natural History Museum (NHM) this year.

In 2021, researchers described previously unknown species across the tree of life, from a pair of giant carnivorous dinosaurs known as Spinosaurs – nicknamed “Riverside Hunter” and “Heron” – to five new snakes that include Joseph’s rider, which has been identified as 185 years old.

The scientists at the London-based museum have focused on describing the extinct groups and species that roamed the earth millions of years ago.

Dr. Susanna Maidment, a senior researcher in paleobiology at the museum who helped describe some of the discoveries said, “It’s been a great year to describe new dinosaurs, especially from the UK. Although we have known about the UK’s dinosaur heritage for more than 150 years, the application of new technologies and new data from around the world is helping us uncover the hidden diversity of British dinosaurs.”

Spinosaurs were among four species of UK dinosaur described by researchers along with a new Iguanodontian with an unusual nose from the Isle of Wight, and Pendraig Milnerae, the oldest known carnivorous dinosaur from the UK.

More than half of the new species identified at the museum this year were copepods, tiny shrimp-like creatures found in salt and fresh water. They make up a significant portion of the zooplankton that krill and other fish and invertebrates feed on, and they play a vital role in the planet’s ecology and carbon cycle.

Because of their abundance, copepods are among the largest carbon sinks in the oceans. Scientists described 291 species this year, many of them from a group created over six decades by French researchers Claude and Francoise Moniot.

Other newly identified species included 52 wasps, 13 moths, seven crabs, six flies, and five bipods. The beetles made a big comeback, as they did in 2020, with 90 new species described. It included a pair of purple and green metallic beetles from India, a monochromatic paired-jawed beetle from the Philippines, and a marsh-loving beetle named in honor of Larry the Cat, the Downing Street rat, the Guardian news reported.

Source: Oman News Agency