Researchers have discovered hundreds of new species of animals and plants in remote parts of the world previously inaccessible to humans, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Among the 380 newly discovered species include animal vertebrates such as a discolored lizard, a bat with a thick thumb, a venomous snake named after a Chinese mythological goddess, a puppet-like orchid, and a tree frog with thick moss-like skin. . They are all found in the Greater Mekong Region of Asia, according to the WWF New species discoveries A report published on Sunday.
“These species have been around,” Yoganand said. “It’s just that, they’ve escaped, so far, human devastation.”
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 Vietnam, according to the WWF.
Lush evergreen forests that receive regular rains and hide in the mountains may contribute to the abundance 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 GMS since 1997, according to the report.
One species known to scientists is the Khoi moss frog, a large amphibian with a moss-green hue, which helps it blend into the lush, moss-covered stony background. The World Wide Fund for Nature described the discovery as an “amazing discovery”.
A very venomous snake called krait suzyn has also been found. It is named after Bai Su Zhen, a snake goddess from a Chinese legend called the Legend of the White Snake, according to the WWF.
In the Tenasserim Mountains bordering Myanmar, researchers found a Thai bow-toed gecko, named after the mythical tree nymph Rukha Deva, who is said to live in trees and protect forests, according to the WWF. Scientists said that the gecko opens its mouth forcefully and waves its tail side to side when threatened.
A semi-aquatic snake now known as Hippius terracarinorum was found in the Donna-Tennaserim landscape between Thailand and Myanmar, according to the report. It was about two feet long, the researchers said, and was fully identified from road kill samples collected over a decade, as well as some photos.
Human encroachment is already affecting some of the newly discovered species. Agricultural encroachment and logging in Vietnam, as well as community collection to use as a traditional remedy for abdominal pain and parasitic infections, threaten Thai crocodile newts, 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.
Yoganand said that while many of the finds were the result of people surveying an area that had never been explored before, some of the finds were of known species that, after further analysis, the researchers determined had many different subspecies, Yoganand said.
In Cambodia, researchers discovered the blue-crowned lizard, an aggressive lizard that changes color as a defense mechanism. It was identified through a study of lizards found near an archaeological site from the Angkor era, according to the WWF. Yoganand said that while the species has been known since the first specimen was collected in Myanmar in the 19th century, genetic analysis conducted in 2021 determined that these species in fact make up many different species.
Hayes’ thick-thumbed myotis, a mouse-eared bat with an unusually fleshy thumb that was named a new species after a specimen languished in a Hungarian museum for 20 years.
“This remarkable species may be new to science, but it has survived and evolved in the Greater Mekong region for millions of years, reminding us humans that it existed long before our species moved into this region,” Yoganand said in a statement. .
WWF-US Asian Species Director Nilanga Jayasinghe said in a statement that while the Mekong region is a global diversity hotspot, it also faces a “wide range of threats.”
“We must continue to invest in protecting and conserving nature, so that these wonderful species do not disappear before we know they exist,” said Jiasinghe.
There are 25 hotspots of global diversity 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 bioacoustics and genetic sequencing, are needed to help scientists discover more species in the area, Trung Nguyen, a researcher at the Institute of Environment and Biological Resources at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, said in a statement.
“To reverse the rapid loss of biodiversity in the region, more concerted, scientific and urgent efforts are required, and conservation actions need more attention from governments, NGOs and the public,” Nguyen said.
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