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November 27 2012

New species sit on museum shelves for 21 years

Discovering a new species must be a heady experience -- the collection in the field, the "eureka" moment when you realize you've got something new, the jubilant announcement to the rest of the scientific community.

Well, not quite.

In fact, an average of 21 years pass from the time a new specimen is discovered until the time it's identified and reported to the world, a new study finds. The individual steps may still be very exciting, but they're often incredibly slow. And at this rate, species may go extinct in the wild while the specimens that might have identified them languish unstudied on museum shelves.

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