35 remarkable new animal and insect species that will freak you out (pictures)

Day-Glo-colored fish, cute-looking carnivores -- these are just some recently discovered creatures. Pleasant dreams!

Leslie Gornstein
Leslie Gornstein is a senior editor with CBS Interactive. For the past two decades, she's covered consumer and B-to-B tech; biotech; entertainment and various other subjects that seemed interesting at the time. She's the author of The A-List Playbook (Skyhorse) and she lives in Los Angeles.
Leslie Gornstein
1 of 35 Cédric d'Udekem d'Acoz/RBINS

Spiked crustacean

The Epimeria loerzae is one of 28 new species of crustaceans discovered in the Antarctica, per a 2017 report. Like the pictured specimen, many of the new species are colorful -- and spiky. 

2 of 35 Daniel Kronauer

Hitchhiking beetle

Look closely. There are two insects in this picture, one on top of another. The red legs and red body belong to that of an ant; the darker upper body belongs to that of the Nymphister kronaueri, a new beetle species discovered in a Costa Rican rainforest, and reported on in 2017. The beetles score piggyback rides by clamping onto ants via their mandibles.

3 of 35 Hannah Wood

That's not a bird

Madagascar's pelican spiders feature the "illusion of a 'neck' and 'beak,'" as Smithsonian.com puts it.  The Eriauchenius milajaneae, one of 18 new pelican spider species identified by researchers who published their findings in 2018, may be the most pelican-y of all. 

4 of 35 SD Biju

Itty-bitty frog

Meet the Robinmoore's Night Frog, one of seven new night-frog species discovered in an Indian mountain range, and unveiled by a University of Delhi researcher in 2017.  

5 of 35 Lauren Dibben via University of Queensland

A venomous snake you can feel sorry for

As a rule, venomous bandy-bandy snakes are burrowers. But this new species, Vermicella parscauda, discovered by University of Queensland-led biologists in Australia, was found hanging out on a concrete block, the university reported in 2018. It's described as in danger of extinction due to local mining. 

6 of 35 Newcastle University, UK/HADES Project

Deep blue

These fish belong to a species so new they don't yet have proper names; they're merely known as the blue Atacama Snailfish. The species was discovered by scientists trolling the depths of the Pacific's Atacama Trench. 

7 of 35 Luiz Rocha © California Academy of Sciences

So. Much. Color.

Called "one of the most beautiful fishes I've ever seen" by a California Academy of Sciences researcher, this new, Day-Glo-colored fish was named Tosanoides aphrodite after the Greek goddess of beauty. It was found off the coast of Brazil, per the 2018 announcement

8 of 35 Brian Kubicki/Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center

A see-through Kermit

Uncharted territory may be dwindling on our planet, but biologists discover hundreds of new species every year. Here are our recent favorites...including a wasp that will absolutely terrify you.

This new species of glass frog, dubbed Hyalinobatrachium dianae, was recently found by researchers at the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center. Looks cute, right? Well, flip it over. It's completely see-through under there. You can see its organs and blood vessels and everything.

9 of 35 MBARI

So cute it's scary

The 7-inch-long flapjack octopus has been on researchers' radar since 1990, but many details about how it lives are still a mystery, and it has yet to be officially named. This little guy was photographed by aquarists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute at about 1,080 feet below the ocean's surface.

10 of 35 James Darwin Thomas, Ph.D., Nova Southeastern University

Small shrimp, huge "appendage"

This newly discovered Leucothoe eltoni shrimp is named after Sir Elton John.

"I have listened to his music in my lab during my entire scientific career," James Darwin Thomas, a professor at Nova Southeastern University, said in a statement released by publisher Pensoft. "So, when this unusual crustacean with a greatly enlarged appendage appeared under my microscope after a day of collecting, an image of the shoes Elton John wore as the Pinball Wizard came to mind."

11 of 35 Cheng Li, Imaging Biodiversity Expedition, and Tibet Forestry

Hair down there

This white-cheeked macaque was discovered in April 2015 by researchers at Dali University's Institute of Eastern-Himalaya Biodiversity Research. The feature that gave it away: a distinctive-looking penis and unusually hairy scrotum.

The beast may be new to science, but according to researchers, it's already threatened by illegal hunting in Tibet.

12 of 35 Pamela Rasmussen/Michigan State University

Elusive bird

Meet the new Sichuan bush warbler. Discovered in part by Pamela Rasmussen, an integrative biologist at Michigan State University, the bird has a shy disposition and a distinctive song.

13 of 35 SINC

See-through "shrimp"

This ghostly, shrimp-like creature was discovered by a team from the University of Seville in Spain in 2013. The new species, which are actually members of another crustacean group called amphipods, live in caves off the coast of Catalina Island, near Los Angeles.

14 of 35 CSIRO

Fairy-like moth

The enigma moth, announced just this year by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia, has been described as a "living dinosaur," part of a group of moths with ancient roots. Their adult lives are lived in a single day, in which they emerge from their cocoons, mate, reproduce and die.

15 of 35 Jim McGuire/University of California Berkeley

Toothy frogs

Meet Limnonectes larvaepartus. Discovered in late 2014 by scientists at the University of California at Berkeley, the frog has fangs, sort of -- two projections on its lower jaw that are used for fighting. But it gets better. This species also gives birth to live tadpoles, which may be guarded early in life by protective frog fathers.

16 of 35 Jim McGuire/University of California Berkeley

Fanged frogs give live birth

Here's a closeup of the newly unveiled Limnonectes larvaepartus tadpole, a rare example of live young borne of a frog species.

17 of 35 Western Australia Museum

Red dragons

Announced just last month, this vibrant ruby seadragon proves that "we definitely have many more exciting discoveries awaiting us in the oceans," according to co-discoverer Nerida Wilson of the Western Australia Museum.

18 of 35 California Academy of Sciences

New fish

Here's a newly discovered species of ghost shark, the Chimaera carophila, from New Zealand. The California Academy of Sciences introduced it to the world in December last year.

19 of 35 Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

Living branch

That's no stick, but rather a very, very large new species of stick bug, discovered in late 2014 in Vietnam. It's more than a foot long, making it the second-biggest living insect ever found.

20 of 35 California Academy of Sciences

Fearless ant

All hail the hero ant from Madagascar, discovered last year. When it senses an invading insect, it grabs the intruder and hurls itself off the ant equivalent of a cliff. Once the unwelcome guest is away from the colony entrance, the ant picks itself up and gets back to work.

21 of 35 Michael Staab/University of Freiburg, Germany

Vicious wasp

Sure, this bone-house wasp, unveiled in July last year by scientists at the University of Freiburg in Germany, looks like any other stinger. But it's way meaner: it uses ant corpses to build its home, and lays its eggs inside living spiders. Pleasant dreams!

22 of 35 AP Photo/Rutgers University, Jeremy Fineberg

I'm hoppin' here

Yep, this newly categorized leopard frog, announced in October last year by a graduate student at Rutgers University, is 100 percent New Yorker: it was discovered near the Statue of Liberty. It also has a loud, guttural call.

23 of 35 California Academy of Sciences


This nudibranch is a new slug species called the Phyllodesmium undulatum. Unveiled in 2014 by the California Academy of Sciences, it's essentially a poison-eating sea slug that glows.

24 of 35 California Academy of Sciences

Battle-ready spider

That tiny dot at the bottom of the web is a newly categorized ray spider, discovered in 2014 by an arachnologist at the California Academy of Sciences. "Ray spiders aren't filter feeders," the Academy's Charles Griswold said. "They tend to stretch their sticky webs into a cone-like shape and hold on tightly while they wait for unsuspecting prey. Once spotted, they shake or let their webs fly out to catch a meal."

25 of 35 California Academy of Sciences

Smallest sengi

This relatively tiny species of Namibian elephant shrew, Macroscelides micus, debuted last year as well. Only about a dozen new mammal species are discovered yearly.

26 of 35 California Academy of Sciences

Massive eel

Yes, this Pylorobranchus hearstorum worm eel, which officially debuted in 2014, is the largest of its kind, about 50 inches long from head to tail, making it about twice as long as other known worm eels. But if that isn't mind-blowing enough, consider: the worm eel is actually neither worm nor eel. It's a fish.

27 of 35 Alessandro Marco Catenazzi

Bright frog

The vast majority of Telmatobius frogs, including the newly catalogued yellow Telmatobius ventriflavum, discovered by Alessandro Catenazzi, are considered threatened. The yellow variant was officially recognized as a new species in February.

28 of 35 MBARI

Deadly sponge

Announced by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in April 2014, these shrub-like sponges trap small sea creatures and then digest them over several days.

29 of 35 Mark Gurney/Smithsonian

Definitely not a teddy bear

Don't let its cuddly looks fool you: The raccoon-related, Ecuador-dwelling olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) is a carnivorous mammal -- the first new carnivore species found in the Americas in 35 years, Smithsonian scientists announced in 2013. 

30 of 35 Matthew Shirley/Florida International University

New croc on the block

This is no ordinary croc. According to Florida International University, this is a distinct Central African slender-snouted crocodile, or Mecistops leptorhynchus -- billed as the "first new living crocodile species to be defined and named in nearly 85 years."  

31 of 35 Cesar Jaramillo/Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Smooth frog operator

Poison dart frogs are known for being potentially deadly. At least the bright orange Andinobates geminisae is small: about the size of a fingernail. Uncovered in Panama, it was revealed to the research world in 2014. 

32 of 35 P.J. Venegas/Copyright Pablo J. Venegas, Omar Torres-Carvajal, Vilma Duran, Kevin de Queiroz

Mr. Lizard

This new species of wood lizard was discovered in Peru's Cordillera Azul National Park, per a research paper published by ZooKeys in 2015. Females are largely brownish, while males, such as the one pictured, are greenish. 

33 of 35 Grant Connette/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

New gecko

The photogenic Tenasserim Mountain bent-toed gecko is one of two new gecko species found in a deforested part of Myanmar, per a 2017 paper authored by a Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute fellow and other scientists.  

34 of 35 Grant Connette/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

On the rocks

The Lenya banded bent-toed gecko is the other new gecko species found in the Myanmar study. Like the bent-toed gecko, it's considered endangered by the very deforestation that revealed the species. 

35 of 35 Terry Gosliner © California Academy of Sciences

No slug

This newly identified sea slug, the Hypselodoris iba, hails from the coral reefs of Indonesia. The species is found in both purple, and in white with orange spots. "Sea slugs have an arsenal of strategies for surviving, from mimicry to camouflage to cryptic patterns," zoologist Terry Gosliner said in an October 2018 announcement.

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