The Rarest of Them All

20 Oct

Pandas aren’t really all that rare. Relatively. I mean, we don’t have a lot of them left in the wild, but captive individuals are common enough that China used to just give them to countries that it liked. There are animals, however, to which the term rare is an understatement. Rare implies that they’re hard to find. These are unique.

This beetle is known as Kanakopsis amieuensis and it, this specific individual, is the only member of its species we know. It’s not a previously well-known species that declined, like Lonesome George‘s subspecies was. This is it, the only one we’ve ever found.

The Encyclopedia of Life lists sixty other species that are also documented from a single specimen. Unsurprisingly, most of them are either from the oceans, which we are still struggling to explore, or insects, which are sometimes difficult to notice or tell apart (In fact, just this year scientists found an entirely new species of lacewing because someone posted a picture of it on Flickr). Only two mammals grace the list.

Among the more notable entries:

Some of these, like the Mysterious Starling, were caught on the very edge of extinction. Others, like some of the deep-sea fish, are likely fairly common, just quite difficult to find. Perhaps with further effort new individuals will be found and we’ll remove them from this exclusive list, but for now these animals remain where they are – among the rarest of them all.

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Posted by on October 20, 2012 in Natural History


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