Godzilla goby, peacock spiders and worms are our newest species

8 Jun 2016

The newly-discovered Godzilla goby fish (Varicus lacerta), via Barry Brown

Another month, another collection of newly-found species, as creepy crawlies dominate the latest discoveries, with a colourful ‘Godzilla goby’ alongside seven peacock spiders and some red worms.

New species

Godzilla is here

Researchers with the Smithsonian Institution have been scanning the seabed around the Caribbean in search of new sealife. What they found recently is a wonderful in-between creature, living in an environment that’s too deep for scuba divers, but too shallow to interest submarines.

A live male specimen of the new Godzilla goby fish (holotype), via Barry Brown

A live male specimen of the new Godzilla goby fish (holotype), via Barry Brown

Future Human

Pretty, colourful and full of teeth, the Godzilla goby  is bright yellow and orange, with green eyes, a large head and multiple rows of recurved canine teeth in each jaw.

Its formal name is varicus lacerta, a Latin reference to its lizard-like look. However, with all those gnashers you can see why Godzilla is colloquially accepted.

Apart from its distinct colouring, the new fish sports branched, feather-like pelvic-fin rays and the absence of scales.

The holotype of the new Godzilla goby fish prior to preservation, via Carole Baldwin and Ross Robertson

The holotype of the new Godzilla goby fish prior to preservation, via Carole Baldwin and Ross Robertson

Spider babies

Last month, an Australian scientist found seven new species of the tiny peacock spider – which is, again, vibrantly coloured – which is just 3mm in size and dances to attract a mate.

“They are very, very colourful, they often have iridescent scales and they do something quite remarkable. They perform a courtship dance for females, to impress them,” said Jurgen Otto, who has made spider discoveries his domain.

His discoveries are posted regularly on his Flickr account, with the detailed imagery incredible. However, Otto’s YouTube channel is where the real gold is.

For example, this previously discovered maratus splendens was named in 1896 but not documented for a further 103 years until Otto and his team made this wonderful video.

Is it worm out?

Lastly, a new species of blood-red cave worms were found in Colorado caves. They were first found in 2007 by Dave Steinmann before he officially had them certified last month.

Steinmann claims to discover around 10 new species a year in the area, with more than 1,000 hours of lab tests and publications needed to officially determine this limnodrilus sulpherensis as a distinct species.

What makes them particularly cool is they survive in parts of caves that humans would die very quickly in. Steinmann had to wear special breathing equipment and a safety suit while exploring Sulphur Cave.

Blood-red cave worms (limnodrilus sulphurensis) in Sulphur Cave, Colorado

Blood-red cave worms (limnodrilus sulphurensis) in Sulphur Cave, Colorado, via Denver Post

Hydrogen sulphide gas fills the cave, making it deadly to humans, with these worms showing how life could potentially form in other inhospitable environments like on Mars or Jupiter.

Last month, the top 10 new species discoveries of 2016 were named, including the landmark homo naledi find from last October, as well as a giant tortoise, a seadragon and an umma gumma dragonfly.

Elsewhere, an almost-extinct, carnivorous, giant plant from Brazil called drosera magnifica was included, as was an anglerfish found during the recovery project that followed the Deepwater Horizon oil spill back in 2010.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic