Hide and seek

7 newly discovered animal species that were hiding in plain sight

There’s no shortage of surprises right under our nose.

Originally Published: 

Every year, researchers catalog a swath of species that are new to science.

It’s no surprise, considering one study estimates that 80 percent of existing species on Earth haven’t been documented.


But the most shocking finds might be the ones that hide right under our noses.

Here are 7 new species that were discovered hiding in plain sight:

7. Dendrohyrax interfluvialis

Distinct calls led researchers to discover that these tree hyraxes are a separate species from their neighbors.

Valerius Tygart

Mary Ann McDonald/Corbis/Getty Images

Native to West and Central Africa, these small, furry mammals will either screech or bark from the trees. Researchers weren’t sure if there were multiple species of tree hyrax until they identified genetic differences.

6. Pseudomys gouldii

It was declared extinct over 150 years ago — but new research suggests the mouse has been alive this whole time.

John Gould, F.R.S., Mammals of Australia, Vol. III Plate 19, London, 1863 via Wikimedia Commons

DNA analysis of the Shark Bay Mouse, which is native to Australia, showed that it was indistinguishable from that of the Gould’s Mouse, which was thought to be extinct.

ilbusca/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

The mouse only survives on the offshore islands of Australia, though it once inhabited a much larger region before it was declared extinct.

5. Synapturanus

Though they like to burrow underground, the calls of these “zombie frogs” can be heard in the Amazon during heavy rains.

Antonie Fouqet

Three new species in the genus Synapturanus were described in the German research journal Zoologischer Anzeiger in July.

The frogs are notoriously hard to capture and catalog once they burrow in the soil. That’s what inspired their nickname, zombie frogs:


"We chose this name because the researchers are the ones that look like zombies when they dig out the frogs from the ground"

4. Limnonectes beloncioi

A new species of fanged frog seemed indistinguishable from others in its genus like the Giant Luzon fanged frog (above), until researchers took a closer look.

Rafe Brown

“This is what we call a cryptic species because it was hiding in plain sight in front of biologists for many, many years”

3. Balaenoptera ricei

Skull examinations and DNA sequencing helped researchers identify a new species of Baleen whale.


Called Rice’s whale, the species was once thought to be a subspecies of the Bryde’s whale.

It turns out the Rice’s whale is critically endangered, with fewer than 100 remaining in the wild.

2. Scopalinida

These sponges live at popular dive spots along the California coast, but it wasn’t until this year that a researcher catalogued four species that were previously undocumented.

Thomas Turner

The other big surprise? The Scopalinida genus is normally found in tropical climates.

This marks the first time these sponges have been documented in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

1. Trachypithecus popa

These monkeys, native to Myanmar, were found to have distinct enough qualities to be their own species after researchers looked at skull samples.

Kevin Webb/Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Even though they’re part of a species new to scientific research, the monkeys are known to be critically endangered.

Like the Rice’s whale, they could soon be lost, shortly after being found.


Read more stories about science here.

Thanks for reading,
head home for more!