More than 500 new species listed in 2021 by the Natural History Museum

Despite the restrictions linked to the pandemic, the difficulties of traveling and carrying out their research work properly, a fine list of new species has been drawn up at the end of 2021. The teams of the Natural History Museum have identified 552, described as previously unknown.

The list includes several new species of dinosaurs. The first is a known giant carnivore under the name of spinosaurus. “It has been a fantastic year for describing new dinosaurs, especially those from the UK, explains Susannah Maidment, researcher in paleontology at the Natural History Museum. Applying new techniques and data from around the world is helping us uncover a hidden diversity of British dinosaurs. ” Two other dinosaurs have been identified such as l’iguanodontien, an unusual snouted species from the Isle of Wight and the Pendraig milnerae, believed to be Britain’s oldest carnivorous dinosaur.

Crustaceans, insects, plants and algae

More than half of the new species identified by the museum this year are copepods, small crustaceans that look like shrimp found in both salt and freshwater. Many marine species feed on them and they play a vital role in the ecology and carbon cycle of the planet. This year, 291 species have been identified by scientists, many of which come from a collection assembled over sixty years by French researchers Claude and François Monniot. Geoff Boxshall, a retired researcher in the museum’s life sciences department, and his colleague Il-Hoi Kim have been in charge of research on copepods. “The collection was so huge it was somewhat intimidating, but then the Covid-19 came along and completing these identifications became my containment project”, relate Geoff Boxshall.

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In addition, 90 beetles, 52 species of wasps, 13 moths, 7 crabs, 6 flies and 5 amphipods are among the finds. 5 East African plant species join the long list, including Jewelweeds or touch-me-nots which produce delicate pink or white flowers. Algae and parasites come to close this panel.

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