5 Hide and Seek Champions of the Natural World

Courtesy of Michal Sochor
Courtesy of Michal Sochor / Courtesy of Michal Sochor

Until recently, all of these plants and animals were assumed missing or extinct.

1. Bermuda Land Snail

Courtesy of Mark Outerbridge

Hiding time: 40 years

Bermuda’s endemic snail long eluded researchers until 2014 when one turned up … in an alleyway. “People have been looking for these snails for decades, and here they are surrounded by concrete and air conditioners,” Mark Outerbridge, an ecologist, told the Royal Gazette.

2. Mountain Pygmy Possum

Hiding time: 70 years

First identified by fossil remains in the 1890s, everybody assumed that this palm-sized marsupial was extinct until one was caught lounging in an Australian ski hut in the 1960s.

3. Fernandina Giant Tortoise

Courtesy Galapagos National Park Directorate

Hiding time: More than 115 years

One of 15 giant tortoise species native to the Galapagos (two of which are extinct), the last Fernandina giant was believed to be long dead until an elderly female came out of her shell (figuratively speaking) earlier this year.

4. Oriental Blue Clearwing

Hiding Time: 130 years

This bright blue moth in the Malaysian rainforest cleverly eludes predators—and apparently biologists—by mimicking the appearance and behavior of the jungle’s native sapphire-colored bees.

5. Fairy Lantern

Courtesy of Michal Sochor

Hiding Time: 151 years

Rather than rely on photosynthesis, this plant from Southeast Asia gets its nutrients from fungus in the soil. (And when it blooms, it resembles a terrifying creature from the movie Alien.)