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Your Questions About How To Discover New Species

Michael asks…

the presence of a lophophore in a newly discovered species would suggest which of the following?

A) this species has an exoskeleton
B) this species grows by shedding its external covering
C) this species is motile
D) this species is more closely related to an arthropod than a mollusk.
E) this species is a suppension feeder

New Niche Finder answers:

Lophophore is a filter feeding instrument found in aquatic organisms.
Your answer is E

Steven asks…

Do you believe that more extensive studies are required to discover what species Americans really belong to?

Americans are all obese, Europeans are not
Europeans are cultured, Americans have no culture
Europeans show refinement, Americans show hooliganism

This facts do not add up! How can Americans possibly be of the same species as the rest of humankind?

New Niche Finder answers:

So you have come back….I won’t respond by denigrating the various European cultures. They are valuable and interesting.

However, so is American culture.

Like others, you merely choose the worst examples and problems and use those as your “proof” of why we are not valuable as human beings.

By the way, doofus, it’s been said before but believe me, Europeans were once *very glad* to see our people. I guess we should have just stayed stateside during both the great wars and let your countries duke it out. I am not saying that Europeans were not competent or that we are the “rescuers”, but rather that any help is of great help.

Thank goodness I have traveled enough to know that not everyone is ignorant as you are.

George asks…

I would like to discover new species of animals for my career?

i hear all these stories about new species getting discovered in the rain forest and that sounds good. i would like to focus on amphibians and reptiles. the main problem i have is i dont know what the job is called that does all of these things. what would i need to study in college and what college offers the best of that?

New Niche Finder answers:

Discovering new species of amphibians and reptiles in the rain forest is a good adventure, but you would need to know the existing ones in order to know that you have something new. That would probably require a doctoral degree in Zoology, with emphasis on Herpetology of course. Since there are so many species of amphibians and reptiles out there, you would also need to specialize further on a particular group, such as salamanders, treefrogs, snakes or caecilians. It is probably not a good idea to specialize on turtles if you want to discover new species, since practically all of them have already been discovered. Frogs would probably be a good group to specialize on, as there are a large number of species in the tropics, and you probably have a better chance to discover them.

If you are working in the tropics with frogs, you are probably employed by the local government (good luck) or as a scientist in a University in the West (Europe and USA). Therefore you need to get good enough grades to get into grad school and then figure out which herpetologist you would like to work under for your doctoral degree.

Recently, there is a disturbing trend to split well known species into different “cryptic species” on the basis of genetic distance. It started a couple of decades ago, when some young upstart scientists divided well known species into multiple new ones, but the trend seemed to have gotten a lot worse. Some scientists divide a different mtDNA lineages within a species and then attempt to look for morphological differences (whether real or imagined) among these mtDNA races. I think that is a really bad idea and I predict most of these splitting attempts will not withstand the test of time. Nevertheless, it would be next to impossible to be a taxonomist nowadays without at least some knowledge of molecular systematics. Therefore be prepared by studying hard on chemistry in high school and in college. You will need it.

Linda asks…

Did Jesus ever win the Nobel Prize for inventing the bong?

Why is it always some scientist no one’s ever heard of for discovering a species of bacteria no one really cares about? Why isn’t Jesus getting any love?

New Niche Finder answers:

…What ? ! (have you been taking the hair dryer into the bath tub again…?)

Laura asks…

What are some limitations of using biological keys to identify species?

This is what I got so far not really much: When identifying species, using biological keys, there are limitations such as only being able to identify species that have already been discovered by scientist. New species cannot be identified using the biological key method due to difficulty in deciding where the species fit because there is a variation. If possible can you please make a list of limitations

New Niche Finder answers:

Keys are always limited, for reasons of practicality. They may be limited to certain species, geographical areas or by target user group (e.g. Experts, highschoolers, kindergarden children).

A key for the wrong area might not include your species at all and recently invading species may not have been included in the key. Nature is constantly changing and an out-of-date key may have missed more recent developments.

A key for the wrong level of expertise may rely on technical terms that are difficult to understand or may overlook crucial distinctions in an effort to be user-friendly. Selecting the right key is therefore quite important.

Depending on the key and the quality of your sample, you may find it difficult to identify the relevant characteristics. E.g. Identifying an animal from a partially eaten carcass or identifying a plant from a leaf, when the key asks about the color of the roots.

Keys usually assume an ideal sample and may ignore some individual variations. It may even require information about the location (near a lake, on the bark of an elm tree) or other conditions (growing solitary or in a cluster). If you can, try to take your key with you in the field, rather than collecting samples and identifying them at home.

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