GOOD evening, weirdos! I’d like to welcome you here as our guests of honour at the Top 10 New Species launch. Par-tee!
My first order of business is to congratulate you, the 10 creatures deemed the world’s wackiest “newbies” by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. I see you’ve all brought dates – way to perpetuate the species, y’all – but please mingle!
Howdy, as we say here in Arizona, or wherever. I’m Lexi Donnelly, former leader at Camp Do-Over, a retreat for naughty grown-ups rehabilitating themselves after high-profile flameouts. Previous to that, I was party planner for Osama bin Laden. So if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my past jobs, it’s how to make lemonade from lemons. I guess that’s why they called me in for this event! No offense!
Anyhoo, you can expect about 75 poindexters from the world of science and journalism to gather here in half an hour. In the meantime, I’ll introduce you to each other and explain why, after a lifetime of stone cold obscurity, you’re suddenly on the “Hey!” list.
Let’s start off with Tyrannobdella Rex Leech, who’s over there, sucking up the caviar. Don’t they feed you in the Amazon, T.? Ha! T. Rex Leech was first identified while chowing down on the blood inside a Peruvian child’s nose. Eeeeewwww! He’s “the only known species of leech with a single-armed jaw containing large teeth,” to quote his press kit. His unorthodox eating habits have already landed him upcoming guest spots on America’s Biggest Loser -- and America’s Bravest Dentist! Kudos!
Even smaller than T. Rex is Halomonas Titanicae, a bacterium that consumes iron oxide “rusticles” on steel surfaces, like that of the wrecked Titanic, where he was discovered. Ladies, this is your rare opportunity to meet an “Iron Man” who’d rather eat the cruise-ship itself than lay waste to its buffets.
We’ve got a total of two mushrooms here tonight – both lurking in the shadows, on that damp spot in the carpet. The romantically named Eternal Light comes from the Atlantic forest habitat of Sao Paulo, Brazil and is named for that greenish glow she emits at all hours. Call it bioluminescence or sheer bodaciousness, E.L.’s DNA sequences contribute to our understanding of funky fungi. Awesome, or what? I’d say “Hands together, people!” if any of you had hands.
If underwater fruiting (a.k.a. spore production) is more your “thang,” you’ll want a deep convo in the hot tub with Psathyrella Aquatica, the first gilled mushroom species to go for underwater fruiting in a big way. Scientists chanced upon Psath, as we call her, living large in Oregon’s rushing Rogue River. And guuuuyyyys, she’s single!
You’ve probably already heard from Raspy Cricket, who’s kicking up a ruckus over there, by the margarita stand. Glomeremus Orchidophilus, as she’s more formally known, is the sole pollinator of an endangered orchid found on the Indian Ocean’s Reunion Island. Foxy lady! FYI, she told me confidentially that she only pollinates out of habit – my old chum Arnold Schwarzenegger told me much the same thing last week.
Our next three guests of honour are even more “out there” -- Leaproach, the jumping cockroach, Darwin’s Bark Spider, and Sierra Madre Forest Monitor. You can see Leaproach’s hemispherical eyes combing the room for booty as I speak. This active guy’s not shy! Thank God he lives in South Africa, where I never intend to go. Kidding!
Darwin’s Bark Spider is responsible for the largest webs known to science, spanning rivers and even lakes, up to 25 m. in length and 2.8 m. squared in size. His silk is considered to be the strongest biological material ever studied, which is why it’ll soon be used for the on-stage outfits of such hard-working celebs as Lady Gaga. This spider happens to be self-castrating -- so assertive ladies, don’t bother.
The Philippines is home to Sierra Madre Forest Monitor, or Golden Spotted Monitor, a large, arboreal, fruit-eating lizard that you currently see scarfing down the grilled pineapple on the dessert stand. He’s two m. long and extremely colourful – you can’t miss him, unless you’re a scientist who’s studied the region’s lizards any time in the last 2,000 years.
Our largest honoree this evening is the unavoidable Walter’s duiker, just now leaping from the bar to the chandelier. Oops! Clean-up in Meeting Room One! This West African antelope was discovered under the most grisly circumstances – on sale, in parts, at a meat market. I hope you’ll forgive me, Walt, for noting that you are best curried and served with yams.
Speaking of delicious, folks, you really must avoid making jokes about giving Louisiana Pancake Batfish a maple syrup bath. It’s her flat surface, rather than her flavour, that has earned her that reference to America’s favourite breakfast food. If you’d rather not have those cold, bulging eyes trained on you, you’ll treat her with the respect she’s earned from her tireless work doing cleanup on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Louise, laissez les bon temps rouler!
All right, everybody, let’s go contaminate the buffet! And get ready to rumbaaaaaaa…!