Whereas past ages of discovery have been associated with the exploration of new continents, the current episode is marked by exploration at smaller spatial scales and in more extreme habitats, some of which are surprisingly close at hand. This new age of discovery is richer and more illuminating by virtue of the attention being paid to phylogenetic relationships and geographic ranges. Although it is difficult to quantify progress in understanding the tree of life or biogeographic patterns, a series of examples illustrates that the magnitude and significance of recent discoveries are unquestionably great. Extraordinary discoveries provide an obvious, let underutilized, mechanism to capture the imagination of the scientific community and the public at large.
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