March 25, 2009

Several New Species Found In Papau New Guinea

More than 50 new species have been discovered in Papua New Guinea, according to a report from Conservation International released on Wednesday.

Scientists spent months collecting more than 600 animal species during a trip to the Kaijende highlands and Hewa wilderness of Papua New Guinea.

New species discovered include 50 different types of spiders, three frogs, two plants and one gecko, all of which are potentially new to science.

The discovery of three new frog species are of special importance, said Craig Franklin, a zoology professor at the University of Queensland in Australia.

"They're often regarded as a great bioindicator of environmental health," Franklin, who was not involved in the expedition, told the AP.

"Often we see declines in frogs as a direct pointer to an affected environment."

The three frogs include one tiny brown frog with a chirping call, a green tree frog with big eyes and one bright green frog discovered next to a clear running mountain river.

"If you're finding things that are that big and that spectacular that are new, that's really an indication that there's a lot out there that we don't know about," expedition leader Steve Richards told the AP.

"It never ceases to amaze me the spectacular things that are turning up from that island."

Researchers discovered a new species of gecko that uses its claws to climb trees rather than large pads used by other gecko species.

Researchers also discovered 50 spider species, including several jumping spiders.

Wayne Maddison, a professor of zoology and botany and director of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC, collected more than 500 individual spiders during the expedition.

Further research on these new specimens will shed light on how jumping spiders evolved their unique features.

"Jumping spiders with their remarkably miniaturized yet acute eyes could help us understand how to push the limits of vision. In addition to filling in the gaps in our planet's natural history, exploring spider biodiversity and evolution could potentially inform fields as diverse as medicine and robotics," said Maddison.

"More than anything else, it's an amazingly beautiful world and we're simply trying to reveal it," he said.


Image Caption:  Nyctimystes sp. Frog - This is a large and spectacular frog that is potentially new to science and was discovered next to a clear running mountain river. Frogs of this genus are found mainly in New Guinea's montane tropical forests where they lay their eggs under stones in rivers and streams. The tadpoles have huge suctorial mouths that they use to attach to slippery rocks so they are not swept away. © CI/Photo by Steve Richards 


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