Hundreds of new species found in remote part of world, researcher says

Hundreds of new species found in remote part of world, researcher says

Researchers have discovered hundreds of new animal and plant species in remote parts of the world previously inaccessible to humans, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Among the 380 newly discovered species are vertebrate animals such as a color-changing lizard, a thick-thumb bat, a poisonous snake named after a Chinese mythological goddess, an orchid that looks like a puppet, and a tree frog with skin that looks like thick moss. . They were all found in the greater Mekong region of Asia, according to WWF’s New Species Discoveries report released on Sunday.

“These species have been there,” Yoganand said. “It’s just that they have so far escaped human destruction.”

Hundreds of scientists from universities, conservation organizations and research institutes around the world have discovered 290 plants, 19 fish, 24 amphibians, 46 reptiles and one mammal in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and in Vietnam, according to the WWF.

Lush evergreen forests regularly soaked by rainfall and hidden in the mountains can contribute to the plethora of plant and animal species that live there, Yoganand said.

Nearly 4,000 vascular plants, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals have been discovered in the Greater Mekong region since 1997, according to the report.

One of the species scientists have become aware of is the Khoi mossy frog, a large, moss-green colored amphibian, which helps it blend into the stony, leafy background covered in lichen and moss. The find was described as a “spectacular find” by the WWF.

An extremely venomous snake called Suzhen’s krait was also found. It was named after Bai Su Zhen, a serpent goddess from a Chinese myth called the Legend of the White Serpent, according to WWF.

Discovered in the Tenasserim Mountains on the Myanmar border, researchers have found Thailand’s bent-toed gecko, named after the mythical tree nymph Rukha Deva, who lives in trees and protects forests, according to WWF. The gecko aggressively opens its mouth and wags its tail from side to side when threatened, the scientists said.

A semi-aquatic snake now known as Hebius terrakarenorum has been found in the Dawna-Tenasserim landscape between Thailand and Myanmar, according to the report. It is about 2 feet long and was fully identified from roadkill specimens collected over a decade, as well as a few photos, the researchers said.

Human encroachment is already affecting some of the newly discovered species. In Vietnam, agricultural encroachment and logging, as well as collection by communities for use as a traditional remedy for abdominal pain and parasitic infections, threaten the Thai crocodile newt, researchers said.

In Vientiane, the capital of Laos, the habitat of a new species of gecko is also being fragmented by construction projects, according to the WWF.

While many finds were the result of people surveying an area never before explored, some of the finds were of known species that, upon further analysis, researchers determined to have several different subspecies, Yoganand said.

In Cambodia, researchers discovered the blue-crested agama, an aggressive lizard that changes color as a defense mechanism. It was identified by studying lizards found near an Angkor-era archaeological site, according to the WWF. Although the species has been known since the first specimen was collected in Myanmar in the 19th century, a genetic analysis conducted in 2021 determined that they were in fact many different species, Yoganand said.

Hayes’ thick-thumb myotis, a mouse-eared bat with unusual plump thumbs that was named a new species after a specimen was kept in a Hungarian museum for 20 years.

“These remarkable species may be new to science, but they have survived and evolved in the Greater Mekong region for millions of years, reminding us humans that they were here long before our species became known. settles in this region,” Yoganand said in a statement. .

While the Mekong region is a global diversity hotspot, it also faces a “vast range of threats,” Nilanga Jayasinghe, WWF-US Asian Species Manager, said in a statement.

“We must continue to invest in the protection and conservation of nature, so that these magnificent species do not disappear before we know of their existence,” said Jayasinghe.

There are 25 known global diversity hotspots around the world, including the Amazon in Central America and the eastern Himalayas, Yoganand said, adding that he expects the scientific community to continue to discover more and more species.

Immediate action and increased use of new technologies, such as bio-acoustics and genetic sequencing, are needed to help scientists discover more species in the region, Truong Nguyen, a researcher at the Institute of Ecology and of Biological Resources from the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology, said in a statement.

“To reverse the rapid loss of biodiversity in the region, more concerted, science-based and urgent efforts need to be made and conservation measures need more attention from governments, NGOs and the public,” he said. said Nguyen.

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