The New Species Experts Have Discovered — or Rediscovered — Throughout 2024

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Jan. 12 2024, Updated 3:50 p.m. ET

A Squirrel Monkey/Saimiri sciureus sits in a jumble of trees and leaves the Amazon forest in Amazonas, Colombia.
Source: Getty Images

A Squirrel Monkey/Saimiri sciureus is seen at the Amazon forest in Amazonas, Colombia, on April 4, 2023.

There's one thing that pretty much all humans can probably agree on: New species being discovered is much preferable to species going extinct.

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But with over 157,000 species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 44,000 of which are at risk of extinction, news of new animal and plant species being discovered can feel few and far between.

Thankfully, conservation efforts can help with that. Not to mention, every year, scientists reportedly discover 18,000 new species — so throughout 2024, we'll be updating this list with some of the most exciting new species that are unearthed. Stay tuned!

The Coapilla arboreal alligator lizard, aka Abronia cunemica

In early January, researchers published a study in the journal PLOS One detailing their discovery of a new lizard species. The species was first observed in photos in Chiapas, Mexico's Northern Highlands in 2014; and then between 2015 and 2022, the researchers took five trips to the site to collect evidence.

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Their expeditions were worth it, as they can now officially call Abronia cunemica, aka the Coapilla arboreal alligator lizard, a species. As noted by The Miami Herald, the species lives up high in trees, has brown-and-yellow scales, and can grow up to more than 9 inches in length.

A new jaguar in the U.S.

In early January, it was announced that a new jaguar was spotted in Arizona in December 2023. In the last 30 years, this marks only the eighth jaguar recorded in the Southwestern U.S.

“I’m certain this is a new jaguar, previously unknown to the United States,” Russ McSpadden of the Center for Biological Diversity said, as per AP News. Experts were able to determine this by the jaguar's unique rosette pattern.

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“After being nearly wiped out, these majestic felines continue to reestablish previously occupied territory despite border wall construction, new mines, and other threats to their habitat,” McSpadden added.

According to the the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service classified jaguars as endangered in 1972; then, in 1980, they were removed from the list. As populations waned, come 1997, jaguars were added back to the endangered list. So while this sighting does not mark a new species, it's just as remarkable, as it's a sign of the jaguar population rebounding.

Booralana nickorum, an underwater isopod that's cousins with the roly poly

A pair of hands holds a Booralana nickorum isopod, who is about the length of a pinky finger.
Source: OceanX

Researchers with the nonprofit OceanX and the Cape Eleuthera Island School went on a mission in the Bahamas back in 2019. There, in the Exuma Sound, they discovered new isopod species — but didn't share the news until January 2024, when their research was published in the journal Zootaxa.

This crustacean, called Booralana nickorum, is estimated to be 300 million years old. The researchers are hopeful that studying these creatures — which are cousins with the beloved rollie pollies — will reveal vital information about the ecosystem of the Great Bahama Banks.

This article, originally published on Jan. 8, 2024, has been updated.

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