Tube-nosed bat among 200 new species

Last Updated: Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 18:38

London: A tube-nosed fruit bat with striking resemblance to Jedi Master Yoda, a character in space fiction Star Wars, is among more than 200 animals and plants that scientists have discovered in Papua New Guinea.
The bat, along with an orange spider, a thumbnail-sized frog and a mouse with a white-tipped tail are among a host of new species found from the rugged and little-explored Nakanai and Muller mountain ranges last year.

The findings included two mammals, 24 species of frog, nine plants, nearly 100 new insects including damselflies, crickets and ants, and around 100 spiders, according to the Conservation International which led the scientific team that surveyed the region, the Daily Mail reported.

Leeanne Alonso, Conservation International`s rapid assessment programme director, described the discoveries as "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."

The scientists carried out two surveys in the rain forests of Papua New Guinea between April and September 2009.

In the first phase, the teams explored different altitudes of the forest-cloaked Nakanai mountains, which host cave systems and some of the world`s largest underground drivers. And in the second expedition, they accessed remote areas by plane, dinghy, on foot and even by helicopter in the Muller range.

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.

Dr Martin Kaonga of Papua New Guinea`s conservation organisation A Rocha International, which was also part of the expedition team, 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."

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.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 18:38

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