In the late 1990s, a biologist in Australia was struck by an unusual sight.
A pair of red and white stripes on a large tree trunk.
The stripes were a new animal called the “Vicarious Learning” species.
The species had only ever been seen in the wild, in the Australian outback, but they were unusual in their coloration.
“They’re not a species we have seen before in the outback,” Dr. Peter Nusser told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
“So they were not immediately recognizable.”
But the stripes were unique enough that they made it onto a research list.
After finding a pair in the 1990s at a site called Pinnacle Park, Dr. Nussner and colleagues began a search for the species, which they dubbed “Victoria’s Vicarious Learning”.
“It’s a new way to identify new species in Australia,” he said.
Dr. Nisser has since discovered another pair in another tree trunk in the same region of Victoria.
And while they’re both distinct from the previous species, there are also many similarities, including their stripes and the fact that they both have white stripes down their sides.
This is a diagram of how the white stripes and red stripes on the new species compare to the previous two.
The new species have been found at Pinnacle in Victoria’s southern state of South Australia.
It’s not clear whether the species can reproduce, or if it’s possible to bring the two species back to the wild.
But it does seem likely that they could.
In some parts of the world, new species can be reintroduced by people and wildlife managers to areas where they’re already found.
But there are no plans to bring these species back back to Australia.
In addition to the new tree trunk, other sites in South Australia and New South Wales have also been searched for Vicarious-Learning species.
But they haven’t been found.
What do you think?
Do you think these two new species are actually new species?
What are the similarities between the two new creatures?
Is it possible that these two species could be part of a new genus?