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Top Ten New Species of 2011

(Some fruiting bodies of Mycena luxaeterna growing on a rotten branch. © Cassius V. Stevani/IQ-USP, Brazil)

(Some fruiting bodies of Mycena luxaeterna growing on a rotten branch. © Cassius V. Stevani/IQ-USP, Brazil) Embedded from:

This bioluminescent mushroom is just one of the top ten new species discovered in 2010 and shortlisted by the Arizona State University International Institute for Species Exploration. The list also includes a bacterium which was discovered feeding on the iron oxide of the hull of the Titanic. Visit their site to find out more about taxonomy and species discovery in action, as well as how their nominated ‘new species’ made the top ten.

Remember however, that event though new species are discovered all the time (15,000 a year!), we are in the midst of a global extinction crisis. What use is discovery without the will to take affirmative action to protect our planet’s biodiversity?

Perhaps you too could follow a career in biological exploration!

Ctrl-A Del: Sorting out the flowers

Interesting news today from the Guardian: “Scientists prune list of world’s plants“.  600,000 species of flowering plants have been deleted from the records in an impressive piece of international cooperation.

And no, that’s not because 600,000 have gone extinct (although so many are rapidly disappearing)- it’s because so many were duplicates with different names. By sorting out the list, botanists hope to make it easier for ecologists to keep track of genuinely newly discovered species, as well as more effectively monitor species over time.

This is a nice link to the Classification unit, and highlights the importance of international cooperation in the sciences. It was part of an effort for the Convention of Biological Diversity, which meet this October in Japan. It also links to the Ecology and Conservation option.

Here is a short interview with Dr Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, discussing why all of the member countries have failed to reach their targets, and why it is important to engage all stakeholders in the process of conservation:


Grade 11 are starting out the course with a short “Nature of Biology” unit, made up of Statistical Analysis (and some practice with data), Classification, Evolution and a little introduction to ToK in Biology. Grade 12 are also looking at Classification at the moment, as part of the Ecology, Evolution and Conservation unit.

Here is the class presentation:

Download as pdf here: 5.5 Classification

Work through this Essential Biology 5.5 Classification as you go through the presentation.

There are some activities you can download here:

Shark ID Guide at Queensland
Shark ID Guide at Queensland

Invertebrate phyla cards and dichotomous key

Paired groups key-making activity: Spiders vs Beetles

And here are the Click4Biology notes

There is also a great Environmental Science course online here: The Habitable Planet

Have fun!


Here’s the presentation for the Classification topic:

Follow the links in the images to learn more.

There’s a good wiki article on Classification here.

Here are some decent links to free organism identification resources:

Rapid Color Guides do loads of pdf files on tropical plants, lichens and animals.

The Mekong River has been extensively catalogued in terms of invertebrate life.

Riverwatch has a more user-friendly identification guide, that goes to Order level.

And a couple of rocky shore guides can be found here and here.

You can even carry out a virtual rocky shore transect from the British Ecological Society.

And there are a load of awesome resources at the UCLA OceanGlobe Student Resources site.

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