A Year of New Species | California Academy of Sciences

A Year of New Species | California Academy of Sciences


♪ (Music) ♪ This year of 2016,
I described my first species of ant. Thevenetimyia spinosavus. It lives in Madagascar. Two of them are what we call
aeolid nudibranchs and then, several species
in the genus Philine. Pempheris gasparinii
is the Trinidade sweeper or Gasparini sweeper. It’s a fish that is endemic
to a very small island off of Brazil and it’s found only
in tide pools of this island. Grammatonotus brianne is a fish
that comes from the Twilight Zone, very deep waters off of the Philippines. We collected it about 490 feet deep. It was the deepest species
ever collected by a diver. You cannot find them easily;
can find everything but them. So that’s the nice thing also
because when you are finding them it’s like you’re finding a treasure. You want to scream
and tell everyone, “I found it.” And then you’re a hero in the field. We call it a spiny grandfather because it’s so kind of grey and bristly. It’s kind of a weird looking fly but special and new to science. They have all these little
finger-like appendages that are extensions
of their digestive tract and they can store the stinging cells
from the sea anemones upon which they feed then use those for their own defense. Do I have anything in common
with the ants I described? Huh… Well, some of them are hairy,
and I’m pretty hairy sometimes. Other ants have big teeth. I sometimes have big teeth
when I’m eating a barbeque. But other ants love just
to be in the dark leaf litter. And actually, when I’m in a rainforest,
that’s my favorite place. They are not calm. They are predators. I’m not that calm, and so, I think that we have
this thing in common. I imagine for this fly to persist
where it is in Madagascar, so far away from all
of its other relatives, it has to have some amount
of tenacity and resilience. And so, I’d like to think that I also have
some of those traits. I love Trinidade Island, and this species
loves Trinidade Island much more than me
because it lives only there. I probably have something in common
with a deep species because I like to go deep
and to cold water where it lives. It reflects the fact
that there’s so much to be learned about life on our planet. There’s so much to be discovered
and that’s really exciting to me. They’re the product
of millions of years of evolution and we have to preserve them as well. We are part of the same network. It is very important for us
to try to discover and to assess our biodiversity
before it gets lost. I’ve devoted my life to making sure
that we can actually use and understand and appreciate
the world around us, before it’s too late. ♪ (Music) ♪ It really is kind of an ugly fly. (laughs) It’s really not a very good-looking fly,
unfortunately. I hope next year I’m going to have
a really fancy, beautiful fly, but this year’s fly is kind of
(Laughter) unfortunate — in its ugliness.

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