The new, the different and the weird! In the last 12 months, AMRI scientists have discovered and described some amazing creatures.

AMRI has produced a great year of research with a massive 145 new species described from around the world. The new species included a snake, 2 frogs, 12 fishes, 42 crustaceans, 71 worms, 8 insects, and 9 molluscs. Amongst the new species are a Tadpole Coffinfish from the deep, long-legged flies from New Caledonia and New Guinea, Fire-eyed frogs from the forests of Vietnam and a phantom snail from the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Worms took the top spot on the leader board, thanks to the incredible research efforts of AMRI and our Lizard Island Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef. A few years ago, our team hosted many of the world’s most established polychaete worm researchers over two weeks at Lizard Island. The resulting research was published last year, with 91 new species described, 68 authored or co-authored by AMRI scientists.

One of the new worm species named in 2015 was the “AMRI worm” (Hydroides amri), a calcareous tubeworm named after our research institute! The new worm belongs to a group of worms containing a number of notorious, invasive species that build calcium-based tubes on both man-made and natural structures. This behaviour creates a financial burden on industries such as aquaculture and shipping, while also generating a transoceanic biohazard if they hitchhike between harbours on the hulls of ships. The new discovery therefore has important implications for building the bigger Hydroides picture and protecting Australian marine industries.

The Kermadec Islands north of New Zealand provided a remote location for the discovery of several new marine species including crustaceans and an octopus. Due to the stepping-stone nature of the islands, these discoveries fill an important gap in understanding the connectivity the fauna has with Australia and other western Pacific locations.

One of the new species discovered from the Kermadec Islands is the Jolly Octopus (Octopus jollyorum). This large (up to 60 cm total length), conspicuous bottom-dwelling, shallow-water species was previously unknown and is now thought to be widespread throughout the Pacific. 

These are just a few of the many new discoveries from the last year. These new species discoveries help us gain a greater understanding of the diversity of life in Australia and beyond, and how to conserve it.

Alexandra Nuttall

More information

  • Hutchings, P. & Kupriyanova, E. (eds.) (2015). Coral reef-associated fauna of Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef: polychaetes and allies. Zootaxa Special Volume 4019 (1): 001–801
  • Sun, Y., Wong, E., ten Hove H.A, Hutchings P.A., Williamson, J. & Kupriyanova, E.K. 2015. Revision of the genus Hydroides (Serpulidae, Annelida) from Australia. Zootaxa 4009: 1-99.
  • Reid, A.L. & Wilson, N.G. (2015). Octopuses of the Kermadec Islands: discovery and description of a new member of the Octopus ‘vulgaris’ complex (O. jollyorum, sp. nov.) and the first description of a male Callistoctopus kermadecensis (Berry, 1914). Bulletin of the Auckland Museum, 20: 349–368. 
  • Keable, S.J. & Reid, A.L. (2015). Marine invertebrates collected during the Kermadec Biodiscovery Expedition 2011. Bulletin of the Auckland Museum, 20: 263–310.

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