October 6, 2010
Over 200 New Species Found In Papua New Guinea
Scientists found over 200 new species in the Pacific Islands of Papua New Guinea, including a long-snouted frog and a white-tailed mouse.
Scientists found an exciting assortment of new mammals, amphibians, insects and plants through a survey of remote New Britain island and the Southern Highlands ranges.
"To find a completely new genus of mammal in this day and age is pretty cool," said lead researcher Steve Richards of the new mouse species discovery.
"I mean, people have heard of birds of paradise and tree-climbing kangaroos and stuff, but when you look even closer at the small things you just realize that there's a staggering diversity out there that we really know nothing about," he told AFP.
Papua New Guinea's jungles are one of three wild rainforest areas left in the world, along with the Amazon and the Congo basin. Richards told AFP that the islands were a vast "storehouse" of biodiversity, with scores of new species found by his Conservation International team.
He said that the "very, very beautiful mouse," the 0.8-inch long-snouted frog and another with white bright yellow spots were among the highlights of the discovery.
"I would say that pretty much no matter where you go in New Guinea you're guaranteed to pick up new or poorly known spectacular species," Richards, an expert in frogs and reptiles who is based in Cairns, Australia, told AFP.
"For some lesser known groups only half of the things that we document actually have names, we aren't even a fraction of the way there," he added.
Biologists were unable to even enter some areas due to the mountainous region.
Richards said there were "large areas of New Guinea that are pretty much unexplored biologically."
He said that samples were taken of a number of species and genetic testing had confirmed that it was not related to any known creature.
"These kind of discoveries are almost kind of a good news story amongst all the gloom," he told AFP, referring to the creeping extinction of other creatures.
"There really are spectacular species still out there and there really is a potential for things to survive."
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