Analyzing the best of the new

Ours is an ever-changing world. What was acceptable in the past may be frowned upon today. What existed in the past may not exist today. And what wasn’t there yesterday might be there today.
Darin J. McCannDarin J. McCann

Yeah, I don’t blame you. I confound myself 10-20 times a day with random thoughts that appear to have no other purpose other than baffling me from the time I wake up ...

But I digress.

The point is that we do not exist in a vacuum. As individuals, we change every day — from our physical characteristics to the opinions we might hold on a plethora of topics. We’ve seen societal shifts on how humanity generally views differences in race, gender and faith. And, sometimes, we’ve seen all new species pop up that can convince us that there is a lot more to come to this world than any of us have previously believed possible.

Admittedly, there are different views on these “new” species. Some believe that these organisms have lived for generations, and we’ve just stumbled upon them recently. Some believe that the theories of evolution have forced some species to change their appearance or characteristics in order to survive. And others believe that this is still a relatively young planet, and things are bound to just appear one day from any number of causes.

Regardless, science is constantly identifying these “new” species. The International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at Arizona State University puts out a Top 10 New Species list every year, and recently did a story on their latest effort.

One of the new species on the list was the tecticornia bibenda, a plant in western Australia that also earned the tag, “The Michelin Man,” because of its appearance. There is also a beetle that resembles a rhinoceros, a jellyfish called malo kingi (named after Robert King, who was reportedly killed by this creature as he was studying it) and the oxyuranus temporalis — perhaps the deadliest snake in the world, and also found in Australia. Oh, I’m leaving out a new fruit bat, a sleeper ray and a fossil discovered that appears to be a previously-unkown kind of duck-billed dinosaur.

There’s a lot going on in our sleepy little planet, huh?

Inspired by the ancient romanticism of discovery, I decided to put on my best explorer hat, grab a few bottles of water and set about discovering some species unique to our own area. Here are my findings:

• The flip-floppius — I came across this species largely through tips I noticed in the Coastal Point. There were numerous letters in the paper disparaging the height of the infamous dune at Bethany Beach. Following a recent spat of rough storms, the prevailing thought became that the dune simply wasn’t high enough. Through scientific research, I was able to identify the flip-floppius, and realized that this species had also shown itself during conversations about new municipal buildings in Ocean View and the controversy surrounding the Indian River School District School Board’s legal issues.

• The grassus teasus — I discovered this species while mowing the lawn one day. This little bugger kind of looks like grass after you mow the yard and everything is the same height. However, give it 24 hours and this species grows to 45 times the height of grass, and has a ghastly appearance, to boot. Sure, to some people, this could look like the garden variety weed, but ... leave me alone. I named it. Now it’s mine.

• The brakus toomuchus — This electrifying new discovery can often be found along Route 26. They tend to drive about 20 miles per hour below the speed limit and often tap their brakes at every entrance to or from the road. Though their numbers swell in the summer months, it is not unusual to find them dotting the roadway year-round.

• The florus clogus — I’m very excited about this find, though I’ve only found one to this point. Easily spotted in its flower shirts and clogs, I originally came across the florus clogus while it was designing ads for the paper. The alternate name I had for this creature was “Bobus Bertramus.” Second alternate was “Goofball in Hawaiian shirt.” I’m comfortable with my choice.

• The obnoxo doofusito — Odd, odd species that I’ve spotted far more often in Ocean City than this immediate area, the obnoxo doofusito can often be found patrolling the Ocean City boardwalk. Easily identified by the mullet hairdo and T-shirt proclaiming itself “Official Bikini Inspector,” my advice would be to leave this species alone if at all possible.

• The swervus maximus — Just as Australia had its run of new species in the IISE list, Route 26 has been a local source of new wildlife. I’ve usually spotted this species late at night, after our paper goes to press and I’m driving home. The swervus maximus wanders from one side of the road to the other, and can often be found before its travels at any number of local bars. Like the obnoxo doofusito, I would advise leaving this one alone at all costs.

• The phantomus attendus — I am very proud to discover this elusive species. Though numerous town council meetings are seemingly empty of spectators, we’ve often assumed this species existed simply because of the amount of people who swear they attend every council meeting. Now we know that they can assume the appearance of empty seats.

The search for more continues ...