Scientists Discover 40 New Species
January 25, 2012

Scientists Discover 40 New Species In Suriname

A team of scientists have discovered over 40 new species in southwestern Suriname during a Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) survey.

The scientists found 40 previously unknown species of fish, a frog, katydids, damselflies, water beetles and scarab beetles.

Trond Larsen, director of Conservation International's RAP, wrote that the team was able to develop important strategies for sustainable management of natural resources.

"It´s imperative that we understand which species exist and where they live if we are to prevent them from becoming extinct, a problem facing thousands of species globally," Larsen said in a post about the findings.

The team performed a three-week survey in three remote sites along the Kutari and Sipaliwini Rivers near the village of Kwamalasumutu from August to September 2010.

"The goal of this expedition was to bring together the knowledge and expertise of local people with scientific knowledge to study and plan for monitoring of biological and cultural resources of the Kwamalasamutu region," CI wrote in a post about the expedition (

The scientists surveyed a total of 1,300 species, including 400 plants, 90 aquatic beetles, 90 dung beetles, 76 katydids, 93 dragonflies and damselflies, 100 fishes, 57 reptiles and amphibians, 323 birds, 41 small mammals, 29 medium and large mammals.

They also saw 14 threatened species of plants and animals that are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

Part of the list of new species includes a "cowboy frog" and a spiked species of armored catfish.

The cowboy frog has white fringes along the legs, and a spur on the "heel."  This creature was found low on a small branch during the researchers' night survey in a swampy area of the Koetari River.

"The main distinguishing characteristic of this frog is the lack of a certain characteristic," a CI press release said. "It looks quite similar to 'the Convict Treefrog' Hypsiboas calcaratus but lacks the black and white lateral stripes of H. calcaratus."

The armored catfish has external bony plates and is covered with spines to help defend itself from giant piranhas.

The researchers said that one of the local guides was about to eat the armored catfish as a snack, until scientists noticed its unique characteristics and preserved it.

The team also found a "Great Horned Beetle" on their expedition.  This beetle is "the size of a tangerine" and weighs over 0.2 ounces.  It is metallic blue and purple, and posses a horn on its head used as a weapon to fight in battle.

"The area was paradise for the entomologists among us, with spectacular and unique insects everywhere. I didn't even have to look for ants because they jumped out at me", Dr. Leeanne Alonso, a former CI RAP Director who is now with Global Wildlife Conservation, said in a press release.

"Other scientists were equally impressed with the amazing diversity of birds and mammals of the region. You can really get up close to wildlife here - a camera trap recorded a jaguar about one hundred yards from our camp."


Image Caption: Turnip-tailed gecko (Thecadactylus rapicauda) observed during CI´s Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) survey of Suriname in 2010. Not new to science, the species´ large eyes have vertical elliptical pupils and no eyelids. (© CI/Photo by Trond Larsen)


On the Net: