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New Animals

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My lessons this week are focusing on the natural world and our beautiful planet.

Did you know that new animals are being discovered all the time? This article discusses some exciting recent discoveries.

Read through the article and then decide whether the statements below are true or false. From the statements, can you guess what my opinion of spiders might be...

Lesson by Caroline Devane

New Animals Reading Comprehension

Experts reported last week from the Foja Mountains of Indonesian New Guinea that they have found several new species including a tree frog with a huge nose, a huge, tame rat and a tiny forest wallaby.

Such amazing discoveries make headlines, but what is less well known is that new species of every kind are found by scientists at a rate of about two an hour!

A conservative estimate of the total number of living plant and animal species is 10 to 12 million. When bacteria and other microbes are included, the number may be higher by tens of millions.

Each year, the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at Arizona State University releases a list of the top 10 new species.

This year the new list includes such diverse creatures as a luminescent worm and a giant ball-weaving spider.

The list reminds us of how little we know about life on earth.

It is also a reminder of the importance of the scientific exploration in natural history.

Scientists believe we are in the early stages of a biodiversity crisis, a period of time during which a massive number of species may become extinct.

Examples of new discoveries

A new species of yam from Madagascar, Dioscorea orangeana, produces beautiful flowers and edible tubers. Heavily harvested and sold along with other yam species under the common name Angona, it is critically endangered.

Dracula minnow males, Danionella dracula, discovered in a stream in Burma, have a pair of fangs they use for sparring with other males. This is the first record of toothlike structures in the Cyprinidae, the largest family of freshwater fishes.

A critically endangered insectivorous plant from the Philippines that produces pitchers as big as an American football, Nepenthes attenborough ii is named after the naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.


tame (adjective) not wild; not afraid of people.
conservative (adjective) used to describe a guess, estimate, etc., that is probably lower than the actual amount will be.
luminescent (adjective) creates light without using heat: "Although it's very dark at the bottom of the ocean, some fish can see because they create luminescent light."
natural history
(noun) the scientific research of plants or animals.
biodiversity (noun) the variety of life on Earth.

Are the following statements true or false?

  • 1. Finding new species is a very rare occurrence

  • 2. Unfortunately, in the last ten years, another giant spider has been discovered.

  • 3. At the moment, animals are fairly safe from extinction.

  • 4. A new species of ‘yam’ from Mozambique has been discovered.

  • 5. A fish that reminded scientists of vampires has been discovered.

  • 6. New species are never named after people.