Rare and Newly Discovered: BIG Animals


We’ve been on quite a trip following Conservation International’s RAP crew and now it is time to end our journey by going BIG. This final post in our special edition on rare and newly discovered species will take a look at the larger side of things from giant spiders to giant otters!

Atewa Dinospider (Ricinoides Atewa)

Atewa Dino spider. Copyright Piotr Naskrecki

Where RAP found us: In the Atewa Ranger Forest Reserve in Ghana in 2006. We are only found in Central and South America and West Africa.

New or rare: New and rare

What we look like: We are the largest living member of our order, measuring 11mm long. Males have their reproductive organs on their legs.

Why we’re interesting: We have looked the same since the Carboniferous period, over 300 million years ago! We love eating termites and ant larvae. Yum Yum!

Goliath bird-eating spider (Theraphosa blondi)

goliath bird eating spider
goliath bird eating spider. Copyright Piotr naskrecki

Where RAP found us: In 2006 we were observed in Guyana. We can be found in burrows in lowland rainforests in South America.

New or rare: Rare

What we look like: We are the largest spider in the world (in terms of mass) reaching 170g in weight. Our legs can be 30cm long and we have fangs that can grow 1 to 2.5cm.

Why we’re interesting: We have venom, but don’t fret, it is not deadly to you and is like a bee sting. We have poor eyesight and when we are threatened,we rub our legs together and send microscopic barbs that cause pain and irritation. We don’t usually eat birds but someone in the 1800s saw one of us eat a hummingbird and the name stuck.

Nyctimystes sp.

Large tree frog
Large tree frog. Copyright: Conservation International- Stephen Richards

Where RAP found us: Next to a running river in the mountains of the highlands in Papua New Guinea in 2008.

New or rare: New

What we look like: We are big and bright green! We measure 15cm, have big eyes and vein-like patterns on our eyelids.

Why we’re interesting: We lay our eggs under stones in rivers and streams. Our tadpoles can survive in the fast moving waters of these streams because they have sucker-like mouths that allow them to hold onto rocks.

Bonus BIG animal!

Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis)

giant otter pteronura brasiliensis
Giant Otter. Copyright Frank Wouters

Where we can be found: We can only be found in South America’s freshwater lakes, rivers and creeks

New or rare: Rare and endangered

What we look like: We are related to weasels but we look like a bigger version of the smaller otters that you’ve probably seen before.

Why we’re interesting: We mainly eat fish and lots of it – about 6-9 pounds of seafood every day! Usually we eat on the shore but sometimes we will have our supper while floating on our backs in the water. When swimming we can go slowly, only using our feet, or engage hyperdrive and go fast by using our tail and keeping our feet still.

Highlight Reel

Wacky, beautiful and inspiring are just some of the ways to describe the many different rare and newly discovered species brought to us by Conservation International’s RAP program.

These many different creatures have flown across our screen, swam, climbed, shown off their armour, how BIG they are and taken us into the world of creepy crawlies. All of these species highlight not only the incredible diversity on this amazing planet but also how fragile it can be. Many of the species described in these special feature posts are rare, their populations affected but such things as habitat loss.

You can help by spreading awareness about species at risk, protecting habitat with Bring Back the Wild™ and taking action to help keep our planet healthier.

Earth Rangers has had so much fun looking at these animals that we want to start a highlight reel! Post in the comments section below which species featured in the rare and newly discovered posts is your favourite.







Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that works to inspire and educate children about the environment. At EarthRangers.com kids can play games, discover amazing facts, meet animal ambassadors and fundraise to protect biodiversity.