A man displays a new species of snub-nosed monkey—which was killed for food—in Myanmar (Burma) in 2010.
Each May the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University (ASU), along with an international committee of taxonomists, announces its choices for the top ten species that were formally recognized the previous year. Participants draw up their own criteria, and selections can be made based on anything from unique attributes to odd names.
The announcement is timed to celebrate the May 23 birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, who developed the scientific system of plant and animal names more than 250 years ago.
"Unless we put a face on biodiversity by making individual species known and giving them names to celebrate their unique contribution to evolutionary and ecological diversity, we cannot expect people to value them," Quentin Wheeler, director of the ASU institute, said via email. (See pictures of ASU's top ten new species of 2010.)
"Humankind needs to be reminded also that it is but 1 of 12 million living species," Wheeler said.
Scientists first learned of "Snubby," as they nicknamed the new monkey species, from hunters in Myanmar's remote, mountainous Kachin state (map).
Later dubbed Rhinopithecus strykeri, the odd animal has fleshy lips, an upturned nose, and an odd respiratory issue: Rain falling into the monkeys' noses possibly causes the animals to sneeze, so they often spend soggy days with their heads tucked between their knees.