Over 200 species named by top Aussie scientists in past 12 months

CANBERRA (Xinhua) – Australia’s peak scientific body has revealed that it named 230 new species in the past 12 months.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is leading the charge to accelerate the rate at which Australia’s species’ are named.

According to the organisation, only 20 to 25 per cent of the half a million species that live in Australia have a scientific name. Those that have not been named are invisible to science and conservation.

“Scientists across the country name around 1,000 new species each year. At the current rate, it will take another 350 years just to know what exists,” Bryan Lessard, an entomologist at CSIRO’s National Research Collections Australia, said in a media release yesterday.

“Australia needs a step change in biodiversity discovery and at CSIRO we’re pulling together many strands of science to deliver that,” Lessard said.

“We’re using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, genomics, digitisation and big data informatics to change the way we use the 15 million specimens in our research collections,” Lessard said.

The species named by the CSIRO range from a cusk eel named Barathronus algrahami after CSIRO fish collection manager Al Graham to six new species of plants.

Each species must have a unique scientific name – a genus name first and a species name. Convention dictates that scientists should not name a species after themselves and that a name should not be derogatory or insulting.

Lessard said that some of the soldier fly species’ he has named have waited for a name in insect collection for decades.

“One of the soldier flies I named is from Chillagoe in Queensland,” he said.

“It’s so different from other Australian soldier flies that it belongs to a new genus, which is the next level up from species,” he said.

“I named it Scutellumina parvatra – that means little black fly with no shoulder spines,” he added.