London: Scientists have discovered 60 new species of animal life during the course of a three-week expedition in the South American nation of Suriname last year, according to results of the subsequent data analysis available now.
A group of 16 scientists led by the Rapid Assessment Programme of Conservation International, a non-profit environmental organisation, scoured a never-before assessed mountainous region in southeaster Suriname in 2012.
Among the new discoveries are six frogs, one snake, 11 fishes and many insects, including the diminutive "Lilliputian beetle" a teeny-tiny ruby red beetle measuring a mere 2.3 m.m., likely making it the smallest dung beetle in the Guiana Shield and maybe the second smallest in South America, a statement issued by Conservation International Wednesday said.
The group of scientists have also discovered what they called the “cocoa frog”, a sleek chocolate-coloured frog that lives on trees and uses the round discs found on its fingers and toes to adeptly climb to treetops.
Like other amphibians, its semi-permeable skin makes it highly sensitive to changes in the environment, especially freshwater.
“I have conducted expeditions all over the world, but never have I seen such beautiful, pristine forests so untouched by humans,” Leeanne Alonso, the expedition leader and an ant expert said I the statement.
According to Alonso, southern Suriname is one of the last places on earth where there is a large expanse of pristine tropical forest and the high number of new species discovered is evidence of the amazing biodiversity of those forests.
“With over 100 species of frogs likely gone extinct over just the last three decades, the discovery of this new species is especially heartening,” Trond Larsen, a tropical ecologist and director of the Rapid Assessment Programme at Conservation International said.