Scientists at the Natural History Museum identified 552 new species in 2021, including an Indian beetle, a meteorite that crashed in England, and dozens of crustaceans critical to the planet’s carbon cycle.
From a pair of giant carnivorous dinosaurs to five new snakes, researchers described in the report previously unknown species “across the entire tree of life.”
With international travel to field sites restricted due to the Covid pandemic, scientists at the London-based museum focused on existing collections as well as species that roamed the Earth millions of years ago.
“It’s a matter of… pride that we continue to be at the forefront of recognizing and naming new species — especially at a time when we are losing so many,” said Dr. Tim Littlewood, the Director of Science at the Museum.
Among six newly described dinosaurs, four were from the United Kingdom and the others from China and Africa.
More than half of the newly identified species were copepods — small, shrimp-like creatures that play a vital role in the planet’s ecology.
Other new species included 90 beetles, 52 wasps, 13 moths, seven crabs and six flies.
A new bush-cricket from southeast Asia was also finally determined after sitting in the museum since 1984.
One of the biggest science stories this year, according to the Natural History Museum, was when a large chunk of space rock crash-landed in Winchcombe, England
The Winchcombe meteorite is of only 603 approved asteroids classified as carbonaceous chondrites, a species that includes some of the most primitive comets.
“Winchcombe is thought to come from an asteroid that has remained largely unchanged since the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago,” explained Dr. Helena Bates, a researcher at the Museum.
According to i24news.tv