Dracula Fish, Bald Bird Among Strange New Species
Handout picture from the University of Melbourne via the Wildlife Conservation Society shows the "bald" Bulbul bird discovered in Laos' Savannakhet province. Dracula fish, a bald songbird and a seven-metre (23 feet) tall carnivorous plant are among several unusual new species found in the Greater Mekong region last year, researchers said Wednesday.
Wed Oct 6, 2:34 am ET
BANGKOK (AFP) – Dracula fish, a bald songbird and a seven-metre (23 feet) tall carnivorous plant are among several unusual new species found in the Greater Mekong region last year, researchers said Wednesday.
Other new finds among the 145 new species include a frog that sounds like a cricket and a "sucker fish", which uses its body to stick to rocks in fast flowing waters to move upstream, according to conservation group WWF.
With fangs at the front of each jaw, the "dracula minnow" is one of the more bizarre new species found in 2009 in the Mekong River region, which comprises Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China's Yunnan Province.
Discovered in a small stream in Myanmar, it is largely translucent and measures up to 1.7 centimetres long.
It is not yet known whether the species is endemic to a single ecosystem within Myanmar, or spread throughout the region as a whole.
Other bizarre discoveries include the Bare-Faced Bulbul bird, which is bereft of feathers on the face and side of the head and has pale blue skin on the rear of the head and around the eyes. It lives in sparse forest on limestone karsts in central Laos.
Among newly recorded plants, the Nepenthes bokorensis plant, found in southern Cambodia, has a climbing length of up to seven metres, with pitchers that trap ants and other insects for food.
"The rate of discovery in the Mekong is almost without equal globally," WWF regional conservation director Stuart Chapman told AFP.
"That's attributed to the enormous geographical and climatic range within the region, going from high altitude to dense tropical forests through to some of the richest freshwater in the world," he said.
"Undoubtedly this region is one of the richest in terms of its biodiversity, but it's also one of the most threatened."
The Greater Mekong region is home to some of the planet's most endangered wild species including tiger, Asian elephant, Mekong dolphin and Mekong giant catfish, said the World Wide Fund For Nature.
WWF has warned the Mekong giant catfish -- one of the world's biggest freshwater fish -- could be driven to extinction if plans to build hydropower dams on Southeast Asia's longest river go ahead, blocking spawning grounds.
"We need to keep one of the treasure troves of the world properly conserved," said Chapman.
Scientists Find 200 New Species In Papua New Guinea
A pink-eyed Caedicia, one of the 42 individuals of the leaf katydids found by scientists in September, 2009. Scientists on October 6, 2010 unveiled a spectacular array of more than 200 new species discovered in the Pacific highlands of Papua New Guinea.
Wed Oct 6, 5:33 am ET
Scientists on Wednesday unveiled a spectacular array of more than 200 new species discovered in the Pacific islands of Papua New Guinea, including a white-tailed mouse and a tiny, long-snouted frog.
The survey of remote New Britain island and the Southern Highlands ranges, accessible only by a combination of small plane, dinghy, helicopter and foot, found an exciting range of new mammals, amphibians, insects and plants.
"To find a completely new genus of mammal in this day and age is pretty cool," said lead researcher Steve Richards of the new mouse species discovery.
"I mean, people have heard of birds of paradise and tree-climbing kangaroos and stuff, but when you look even closer at the small things you just realise that there's a staggering diversity out there that we really know nothing about," he told AFP.
Papua New Guinea's jungles are one of just three wild rainforest areas, along with the Amazon and the Congo basin, left in the world and Richards said they were a vast "storehouse" of biodiversity, with scores of new species found by his Conservation International team.
The "very, very beautiful mouse", the two-centimetre (0.8 inch) long-snouted frog and another with bright yellow spots were among the highlights, but the expedition documented 100 new species in each of the spider and insect orders alone, he said.
"I would say that pretty much no matter where you go in New Guinea you're guaranteed to pick up new or poorly known spectacular species," said Richards, an expert in frogs and reptiles who is based in Cairns, Australia.
"For some lesser known groups only half of the things that we document actually have names, we aren't even a fraction of the way there," he added.
The rugged, mountainous and largely inaccessible terrain meant biologists had not even been able to enter some regions and Richards said there were "large areas of New Guinea that are pretty much unexplored biologically".
Sample animals were taken of a number of species, including the mouse, and genetic testing had confirmed that it was not related to any known creature, he said.
"These kind of discoveries are almost kind of a good news story amongst all the gloom," he said, referring to the creeping extinction of other creatures.
"There really are spectacular species still out there and there really is a potential for things to survive."
A species of montane mouse documented during the Rapid Assessment Program biodiversity survey in the Nakanai Mountains, Papua New Guinea in April 2009. The beautiful long-tailed mouse was captured at a high elevation site (1,590m above sea level). Scientists on October 6, 2010 unveiled a spectacular array of more than 200 new species discovered in the Pacific highlands of Papua New Guinea.