Scientific name: Chikila fulleri
An entirely new family of limbless amphibians was discovered in northeastern India in 2012. Part of the caecilian order of amphibians, these creatures look more like earthworms than frogs or toads because of the inexistence of limbs in their bodies. These amphibians, christened Chikilidae, build underground nests and can grow to be more than a meter (3.2 foot) in length.
DNA analysis of the specimens found that their closest relatives are the Herpelidae in Africa, from which they deflected about 140 million years ago. The discovery of the Chikilidae is a great step in understanding amphibian evolution.
10. Mouse Deer
Scientific name: Tragulidae
Technically, this is not a new discovery, as these animals were considered extinct for close to 30 years. The last sighting of the chevrotain, or the mouse deer, was in 1990 in Vietnam. Researchers believed them to be extinct for three decades until a small group of these little animals was spotted in a Vietnam forest again in 2019. The rare silver-backed chevrotains, that resemble a hybrid of a large mouse and a deer, were captured on film scouring for food in a forest by camera traps. The mouse deer is almost the size of a rabbit and is the smallest of the ungulates (hoofed mammals).
The last chevrotain that was spotted in 1990 was found dead. The species was already on the brink of extinction then, and thus, finding an entire group of these animals so many years later is an important step. With the ‘rediscovery’ of this precious animal, researchers can learn new things about it and figure out ways to not lose it again.
Here is to hoping that we learn from the mistakes of the past and find a way to preserve these new animal species in the coming decade.