New top 10 monkey is nothing to sneeze at

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A sneezing monkey, a blue tarantula and an orchid that only blooms at night are included in the latest top 10 list of new species chosen by scientists.

They were among 200 nominated animals and plants described for the first time last year. A venomous jellyfish, giant millepede, parasitic wasp and a tiny worm that lives almost a mile underground also make the top 10.

The list is published each year by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University in the US.

It commemorates the birth on May 23 1707 of Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who devised the modern system of animal and plant classification.

A committee of international scientists made the selection based on “bizarre and unusual” traits.

“The top 10 is intended to bring attention to the biodiversity crisis and the unsung species explorers and museums who continue a 250-year tradition of discovering and describing the millions of kinds of plants, animals and microbes with whom we share this planet,” said institute director Professor Quentin Wheeler.

“The more species we discover, the more amazing the biosphere proves to be, and the better prepared we are to face whatever environmental challenges lie ahead.”

The “sneezing monkey”, Rhinopithecus strykeri, was found by scientists conducting a gibbon survey in the high mountains of Burma. The critically endangered snub-nosed monkey has a distinctive white beard and sneezes when it rains.

Sazima’s tarantula is a striking, iridescent blue hairy spider from South America. Pterinopeima sazimai inhabits tabletop mountains in a remote part of eastern Brazil.

The night-blooming orchid, named Bulbophyllum nocturnum, by scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, was discovered in Papua New Guinea. Its flowers open at around 10pm and close early the next morning.

Among the other top 10 species, the Devil’s worm is one of the weirdest. Measuring just half a millimetre, it was found in a South African gold mine and is the deepest living multicellular terrestrial organism on Earth.