Over the weekend, we all probably heard this freaky news: Cavers in Oregon found a never-before-discovered family of spiders. They have a set of front claws. Because spiders—with their eight legs and their many eyes—aren’t scary enough. So let’s slap some claws on them! Are you kidding me, Nature? That’s excessive. It’s like having a bear that shoots venom out of its teeth.
Anyway, this clawed spider announcement caused me to a) decide that I shall never go caving, or visit Oregon; and b) have weird nightmares about giant bugs driving around in pick-up trucks (I don’t get the truck part, either). But mostly, this news made me once again aware that new species—prehistoric and modern, and every type of creature: fish, mammal, bird, bug, plant—are being discovered pretty much all of the time, everywhere. It’s so common that The International Institute for Species Exploration has compiled a Top Ten New Species list for the last five years. The 2012 list is already released, by the way—it includes a huge millipede given the common name “Wandering Leg Sausage.” Yarf.
But scientists don’t just discover horrifying insects that are guaranteed to haunt your dreams; they find cool stuff, even here in Canada. For example, in the last couple of years, a prehistoric “loon-like” bird in Saskatchewan, evidence of horned dinosaurs in Alberta, a purple octopus near Newfoundland, and a new species of bee, in Ontario.
So the next time you’re out in the wilds of cottage country, bring a field guide, and keep your eyes peeled. You might just find the next new species: A bear that shoots venom, obviously.