Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Australian Museum’s big leap

Australian Museum Research Institute director Rebecca Johnson has headed up a team of scientists who have discovered more than 140 new species of animals in the past 12 months. Source: Courier Mail. Photo: Adam Taylor.

Neil Keene, The Australian Museum: A big leap in discovering new animal species, The Courier Mail, 8 February 2016

It seems the best scientists really are Down Under, with researchers at the Australian Museum ­digging their way to the top of their field by ­discovering 70 new worm species in the past 12 months.

In total, the Sydney-based museum’s team found an incredible 145 species of never-before-identified frogs, fish, insects, worms and sea creatures last year alone.

“We really smashed our record on worms this year,” Australian Museum ­Research Institute director Dr Rebecca Johnson said of the world-leading research.

“Our new discoveries are largely related to the expertise of our scientists.

“For the worms, two of our scientists organised a scientific expedition to our field station at Lizard Island (on the Great Barrier Reef) and in a two-week period they spent a lot of time focusing on understanding the local worm diversity.

“We also described 42 crustaceans, again reflecting that we have a couple of really amazing crustacean ­researchers.”

Dr Johnson said the ­discoveries increased human understanding of the animal world, evolution and the ­delicate ecosystems in which they lived.

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See also: Ed Yong, Natural History Museums Are Teeming with Undiscovered Species, The Atlantic, 8 February 2016


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