10 Brand New Species from 2023, Ranked By How Much I Hope They Don’t Go Extinct
Much like a toothbrush head, this planet of ours is absolutely filthy with living organisms, even if we can’t see them. The fact is, there’s still a huge amount of life out there that we don’t even know about. They’re traipsing about their respective biomes without a care in the world, blissfully removed from any official interactions with us big, dumb, depressed apes. Thanks to the hard work of researchers and scientists, we get a smattering of wonder each year as they share some brand new guys with us.
In my constant search for cool little lizards and stuff, I was alerted to an article by Mongabay listing what they called their top species discoveries from 2023 — a list on which I would like to give my own, entirely untrained input, based purely on vibes and immediate visceral reactions. I’ve picked 10 until-now undiscovered species, and ranked them in order of how much I’d like them to stick around. Oh, and if you don’t like spiders, this isn’t going to go great for you.
No, that’s not some sort of weird joke or clipboard fragment. This spider is indeed named for Marvel antihero Venom, specifically and unfortunately tied to his portrayal by Tom Hardy in some truly terrible movies. It got the name thanks to the Venom-like markings on its underside. This is cool! That said, now that I’ve heard that fact, I’m fine with it never showing up again in real life or in graphical form.
This is a little creature that’s been nicknamed a “snug,” as it’s sort of a snail-slug hybrid. It’s started growing a protective shell, but one that’s woefully inadequate for any sort of real protection. Basically the equivalent of a Kevlar speedo. I wish I could put it higher, because they really are trying their best, but I’ve stepped on slugs before and looking at one makes me remember that feeling. Also, snails already finished what this thing’s trying to do, so you’re a lil’ redundant, lil’ fella.
Look, this is a really cool snake — great coloration, cool bright red eyes, doing all sorts of twists and turns with their body, as they should. My problem here is that it’s not bringing enough new to the table. We love what you’re doing, but we’re just not really looking for more snakes at the moment. You understand, right?
Chomphuphuang N, Sippawat Z, Sriranan P, Piyatrakulchai P, Songsangchote C (2023) A new electric-blue tarantula species of the genus Chilobrachys Karsh, 1892 from Thailand (Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Theraphosidae). ZooKeys 1180: 105-128.
The fact that a tarantula even made it this high is a testament to how cool this thing is. I’d even go so far as to say this is just about the apex a tarantula can hope for on my personal and arbitrary scale. Apparently, nanostructures on the tarantula’s hairs produce an iridescent effect, or, in layman’s terms: electric blue cyberpunk tarantula. Sick. Unfortunately, everything else about it.
Chan, Kin Onn; Grismer, L. Lee; Santana, Fernando; Pinto, Pedro; Loke, Frances W.; Conaboy, Nathan (11 January 2023). "Scratching the surface: a new species of Bent-toed gecko (Squamata, Gekkonidae, Cyrtodactylus) from Timor-Leste of the darmandvillei group marks the potential for future discoveries". ZooKeys. 1139: 107–126.
This gecko is absolutely killing it. It’s not trying to come out of the gate with anything too crazy. It just looks at all geckos past and thinks, “Let’s try a little yellow on the eyes.” Beautiful. Understated. Oozes confidence. Sign me up to scoop this guy into my hand anytime.
Hell fuckin yeah, dude. Not only is this frog repping J.R.R. Tolkien in its name, it looks absolutely incredible. What a pattern. It’s like somebody threw a Call of Duty skin on a tree frog. Not a default one, either, I’m talking some real-money, preorder bonus type drip. With everything else, it didn’t need to go so hard on the eyes, and yet, it still did.
If you want me to immediately be willing to risk personal injury for an animal, a great strategy is to make it look like a Pokemon. This gecko is ready for the spotlight ASAP as a rock-type starter. I don’t even mind that its feet look like one of those guys who grew his fingernails out to get in the Guinness World Records book. Somehow it makes it work. That tail? A masterpiece.
TINY SQUID! TINY SQUID! TINY SQUID!
Now, you may be thinking two things here. One, this doesn’t look like a particularly incredible frog, especially competing with that dazzling display only a few entries back. Second, are those two frogs fucking? To which my answer is: grow up. What rockets this frog to number two on the list is something that, regretfully, cannot be seen in photos, and that is that this frog’s most interesting trait is that they’re completely silent. How respectful! How mature! They’re not bothering anybody, so what the hell do they need to go extinct for?
Good god, man. Look at this regal beast. It has this expression like “so, you finally found me.” This might be the best lizard I’ve ever seen. Just when you think you’ve fully absorbed its glory, you realize it’s a pygmy chameleon, which means it’s tiny, and the waves wash over you anew. I feel like if I was able to communicate with this thing, it would pass on the sort of wisdom that brings our whole population into a whole new age.