The museum is closed temporarily

Until further notice, the museum will be closed as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 virus. Learn more.

  1. Home>
  2. About Us>
  3. Museum News>
  4. News>
  5. New species described in 2018 by museum scientists

New species described in 2018 by museum scientists

Yes, new species get described each year, and scientists at the Canadian Museum of Nature are doing their part! As part of the museum’s Beaty Centre for Species Discovery, our scientists expand knowledge of biodiversity through fieldwork and by studying collections of plants, animals, fossils and even minerals. Enjoy this slide show with some new species described by our researchers in 2018. Each has been enshrined in the scientific record following publication in peer-reviewed journals.   

Magnified image of Sicoderus bautistai.

Museum entomologist Dr. Bob Anderson found this weevil in a museum collection in the Dominican Republic. After careful analysis, he was able to describe it as a new species belonging to the genus Sicoderus. He named it Sicoderus bautistai after Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, whose dramatic playoff home run in 2015 marks a great moment in Canadian baseball. Read more: Image: Robert Anderson © Canadian Museum of Nature

Magnified image of Chaenotheca selvae.

Lichenologist Dr. Troy McMullin did not have to travel far to name a new species in 2018. He and a colleague found Chaenotheca selvae while surveying lichens in the arboretum at the University of Guelph in southern Ontario. It belongs to a group known as stubble lichens, which are extremely tiny (0.1 to 0.2 mm tall). The new species was named after University of Maine biologist Dr. Steven Selva, a world authority on this group of lichens. Watch this video for the complete story: Image: Troy McMullin © Canadian Museum of Nature

Two images: a fossil turtle shell and Jordan Mallon standing beside a turtle statue.

The Canadian Museum of Nature has many unopened field jackets in its collections, some containing undescribed fossils. One jacket, collected in 1924 from the Horseshoe Canyon Formation in Alberta, was recently opened revealing the shell of a new species of large turtle from the late Cretaceous. It was described by palaeontologist Dr. Jordan Mallon and named Basilemys morrinensis, after the village of Morrin, Alberta near where the fossil was found. The town had even erected a statue of the turtle in 1982, well before knowing it was a new species!

Fossil turtle embedded in rock.

Museum palaeontologist Dr. Xiao-chun Wu has decades of experience collaborating with scientists in China in order to understand the evolution of marine reptiles. In 2018, he co-authored a study describing a new species of turtle: a 228-million-year-old fossil named Eorhynchochelys sinensis that lacked a shell but had the first toothless turtle beak. The fossil was found in Ghizhou Province in 2015. Read more:

Magnified images of lussierite.

There are an estimated 3,800 species of minerals in the world. Museum mineralogist Dr. Aaron Lussier was recently honoured with a new mineral named after him—lussierite (a uranium sulphate). It was found in a Utah mine, and named by Tony Kampf of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and colleagues to recognize Aaron’s outstanding research on radioactive minerals. Naming a new mineral is controlled by the International Mineralogical Association, which has 34 voting countries, each with one vote for the species designation and one vote for the name. Image: Tony Kampf © Tony Kampf