Washington: A new species of monkey that purrs like a cat is among 441 new species of animals and plants discovered over a four year period in the vast, under-explored Amazon rain-forest.
Found between 2010 and 2013, the species include a flame-patterned lizard, a thumbnail-sized frog, a vegetarian piranha, a brightly coloured snake, and a beautiful pink orchid, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Discovered by a group of scientists and compiled by WWF, the new species number 258 plants, 84 fish, 58 amphibians, 22 reptiles, 18 birds and one mammal. The total does not include countless discoveries of insects and other invertebrates.
"These species form a unique natural heritage that we need to conserve. This means protecting their home - the amazing Amazon rain-forest - which is under threat from deforestation and dam development," said Claudio Maretti, Leader of Living Amazon Initiative, WWF.
Some of the most remarkable species outlined in the report include: Flame-patterned lizard, thumbnail-sized frog, vegetarian Piranha, a brightly coloured snake, a beautiful pink orchid and Caqueta titi monkey.
Many of the new discoveries are believed to be endemic to the Amazon rain-forest on the Brazil-Peru border and are found nowhere else in the world.
This makes them even more vulnerable to rain-forest destruction that occurs every minute across the Amazon, researchers said.
"Compiling and updating data on new species discovered in the vast extension of the Amazon over the last four years has shown us just how important the region is for humanity and how fundamentally important it is to research it, understand it and conserve it.
"The destruction of these ecosystems is threatening biodiversity and the services it provides to societies and economies. We cannot allow this natural heritage to be lost forever," Maretti said.