Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tube-nosed fruit bat, orange spider and Dracula fish are just some of hundreds of new species found in remote rainforests


A Nyctimene tube-nosed Fruit Bat is one of the exotic new discoveries made by scientists in Papua New Guinea

An orange spider and a tube-nosed fruit bat are among the new species discovered in remote mountain rainforests of Papua New Guinea.

More than 200 new species of animals and plants were found for the first time during two months surveying in the rugged and little-explored Nakanai and Muller mountain ranges last year, Conservation International said.

The findings included two new mammals, 24 species of frog, nine new plants, nearly 100 new insects including damselflies, crickets and ants, and around 100 spiders.

Incredible find: An orange spider, so different it has its own new genus, was one of the star discoveries of the project

A white tipped-tail mouse, at least one ant and several of the crickets, or katydids, are so different from other known species they each represent an entirely new genus, the scientists said.

They were uncovered by two scientific teams co-ordinated by Conservation International's rapid assessment programme, in partnership with Papua New Guinea's Institute for Biological Research and conservation organisation A Rocha International.

The teams explored different altitudes of the forest-cloaked Nakanai mountains, which host cave systems and some of the world's largest underground rivers, and the Muller range, accessing the remote areas by plane, dingy, on foot and even by helicopter.

A pink-eyed Caedicia, one of the 42 individuals of the leaf katydids (subfamily Phaneropterinae) in the Muller Range mountains of Papua New Guinea, found by scientists Piotr Naskrecki and David Rentz

In the Nakanai surveys, scientists discovered a beautiful yellow-spotted frog found only high up in the mountains, the mouse with the white-tipped tail and the tiny 2cm frog which calls for a mate in the afternoon - unlike most frogs in the area which call at night.

In the Muller range, researchers found what they described as a 'spectacular variety' of insects, spiders and frogs.

One of the newly-discovered katydids has exceptionally long spiny hind legs which it uses to jab at anything that threatens it, one new species has pink eyes and another has emerald-green patterning.

Newly-discovered: A mouse with a long white-tipped tail was among hundreds of new species found by scientists in remote areas of rainforest

Barely discernible: This tiny, well-camouflaged long-nosed frog's size is illustrated by a scientist's finger

A member of the Litoria genimaculata group, a frog with extremely variable colour patterns and distinct yellow spots in the groin, found in the in the Muller Range mountains

Leeanne Alonso, Conservation International's rapid assessment programme director said the discoveries made in both surveys were incredibly significant.

'While very encouraging, these discoveries do not mean that our global biodiversity is out of the woods,' she said.

'On the contrary, they should serve as a cautionary message about how much we still don't know about Earth's still hidden secrets and important natural resources, which we can only preserve with co-ordinated, long term management.'

Dr Martin Kaonga, interim director of science and conservation at A Rocha International, who is based in Cambridge, said: 'It's very important we find these species, because it's only when you know what species exist in an area that you may be in a position to understand how to manage that given area.'

Beautiful blooms: A newly discovered Rhododendron in Papua New Guinea (left) and the striking Nepenthes bokorensis, found on Cambodia's Bokor Hill

He also said species may have uses, for example as medicines, and that there was a need to raise understanding among local people of the value of the wildlife found in their forests.

Meanwhile, several new discoveries in Southeast Asia’s Mekong river are also causing a stir.

A fish with curving vampire fangs, a gecko that looks as if it's wearing lipstick and a carnivorous plant more than seven metres high may sound like creatures from a nightmare but they are real.

They are just three of 145 new species found in the area in 2009 and highlighted in a WWF International report issued today, ahead of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, this month.

A female Protobothrops trungkhanhensis found in northern Vietnam

A cricket-chirping frog (LeptolalaxApplebyi) is seen in the Quang Nam province of Vietnam

The diversity of the region, so rich that an average of three new species were discovered each week last year, also highlights the need for action to ensure these new finds survive, WWF International said.

Among the animals highlighted in New Blood: Greater Mekong New Species Discoveries 2009’ is the Dracula minnow, with bulging eyes and two sharp fangs curving from its low-slung jaw. Luckily, the fish only grows to a maximum of 16.7 mm.

More attractive by far is the lipstick gecko, barely big enough to perch on a finger, with a dark barred pattern across its lips suggestive of cosmetics.

Danio tinwini, a spotted Danio fish found in Myanmar

Other featured creatures include a fangless snake, a frog that chirps like a cricket, and a pitcher plant that traps insects and grows to a height of over seven metres.

‘This rate of discovery is simply staggering in modern times," said Stuart Chapman, Conservation Director of WWF Greater Mekong, in a statement.

‘Each year, the new species count keeps going up, and with it, so too does the responsibilty to ensure this region's unique biodiversity is conserved.’

The Bare-Faced Bulbul (elft), is only known to live in the sparse, deciduous forest on limestone karsts in central Laos, while the Murina eleryi (Eleryi's tube-nosed bat), is found in northern Vietnam

The report said these discoveries highlight the Greater Mekong's immense biodiversity but they also pinpoint the fragility of the region's diverse habitats and species.

The WWF report cited the likely local extinction of the Javan rhino in Vietnam as one tragic indicator of the decline of biodiversity in recent times.

The Greater Mekong region covers Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the southern Chinese province of Yunnan.

The Coluberoelaps nguyenvansangi, a rare a dwarf fossorial snake found in southern Vietnam

source :dailymail

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