Look Closely, And You Can Find New Species—Even in Well-Explored Countries Like Norway

Determination is all that’s needed to discover new species

Campylaspis costata
Campylaspis costata, a species of crawfish recently discovered in Norway. Image: Henrik Glenner, University of Bergen

To discover new species, it seems that a bit of determination is all that's needed to find not just one but hundreds of previously unknown animals. Even well-explored places like Europe are crawling with them. Norway just proved this point quite convincingly: in just four short years, the country has uncovered 1,165 species previously not known to live there, 25 percent of which are completely new to science.

The Norway Taxonomic Initiative is responsible for these discoveries. Established in 2009 with the goal of uncovering previously overlooked species and creating a definitive list of the country's total biodiversity, participating researchers have scoured land and water bodies up and down the country in search of new creatures.

Even after identify more than a thousand candidates, the researchers still estimate that there are more than 10,000 to go before they close the book on Norway's biodiversity. Much of the country's missing biodiversity, they think, is accounted for in various flying insects. On the other hand, marine ecosystems seem most promising for discovering species entirely new to science. Of the marine organisms the team has found so far, 90 percent are brand new.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Killer Whales May Be Two Distinct Species 
New Lacewing Species Discovered on Flickr 

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.