480 New Species Found in Singapore in the Last Five Years

It is a common misconception that Singapore is an urban jungle devoid of nature. However, despite our country being small and highly urbanised, we have almost 400 bird species, more than 2,000 species of native plants, and 250 species of hard corals living in our midst!

In fact, we are still continuing to find more species. Over the past five years, researchers have discovered some 480 species that are new to Singapore, and rediscovered more than 20 species that were thought to be extinct.

Most recently, a species of hard coral which has never been recorded in Singapore before was found during the first Marine BioBlitz that was held during Biodiversity Week. Spotted during an underwater survey at the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, Favites vasta is a coral colony that has the largest coral skeleton amongst its genus.


Favites vasta (Photo credit: Huang Danwei)

Here are some other species that were either discovered or rediscovered over the past five years.


(Photo credit: Chui Shao Xiong)

Potentially new to science, this Ceratina species of carpenter bee was found at the edge of a secondary rainforest at Dairy Farm Nature Park in 2014. It has been tentatively given the name “sayang” due to the heart-shaped spot on its back. NUS and NParks researchers are currently preparing to publish a paper on this discovery.


(Photo credit: Yam Tim Wing)

The Acriopsis ridleyi was originally discovered in Bukit Mandai in 1889, and that was the only time the orchid was collected in Singapore. In 2016, the orchid was rediscovered at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve more than a century since it was last seen. 


(Photo credit: Noel Thomas)

The Ashy Roundleaf Bat (Hipposideros cineraceus) was first recorded on Pulau Ubin in 2014. A new record to Singapore, these bats roost in abandoned structures and are named after their leaf-shaped noses.

The discovery of these species shows that there is much left to be explored in our city-state. This also shows that decades of efforts to enhance our greenery and safeguard our nature reserves and green areas are paying off!

The support of the community is also crucial for the long-term survival of our biodiversity. Everyone can play an important role in protecting and enhancing Singapore’s natural heritage, be it as an individual, as part of an organisation, or educational institution.

By caring for our biodiversity, we are able to conserve and protect it for the benefit of our future generations.

Text by Clarissa Sih

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