New, weird species threatened

2013-05-28 17:53
This photo shows a Bornean flat-headed frog, which has the rare characteristic of being an amphibian without lungs, and instead breathes entirely through its skin, recently discovered in Borneo. (David Bickford, AP/ World Wildlife Fund)

This photo shows a Bornean flat-headed frog, which has the rare characteristic of being an amphibian without lungs, and instead breathes entirely through its skin, recently discovered in Borneo. (David Bickford, AP/ World Wildlife Fund)

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New York - A frog just 7mm long is now officially recognised as the smallest vertebrate animal in the world.

This has earned the tiny amphibian a spot on the list of the 10 most unusual discoveries in the plant and animal world during the past year, as compiled by Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.

The frog - scientific name Paedrophrzne amanuensis - lives in the Papua New Guinea rainforest.

As with others on the 2013 Top 10 New Species List, it was discovered some time ago, but has only just been recognised as a new species.

For the first time in many years, biologists in Africa have come across a new monkey species. The lesula (Cercopithecus lomamiensis) lives hidden away in the Lomami region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Undiscovered

Researchers say it has "human eyes" and that males have a shining blue stripe on their backs and genitals. Both males and females welcome every morning with loud shrieking and dancing.

A newly found meat-eating sponge has thrilled scientists with its harpoon-like arms. Nor is it any wonder that it has remained undiscovered for so long: The Chondrocladia lyra dwells more than 3km deep in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.

The list also includes a snake discovered in Central America by staff of Germany's Senckenberg Institute.

In the journal Zootaxa the biologists gave the non-poisonous snake a name - Sibon noalamina - with an environmentalist message. The second name in Spanish means "no to mines".

Viola lilliputana, a tiny violet on the plains high up in the Andes mountains of Peru, had till now been unnamed as a species. It took half a century before biologists finally analysed samples of the miniscule plant taken in the 1960s.

A fluorescent cockroach from the Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador has now made the species list, 70 years after its discovery. But the insect - Lucihormetica luckae - which thanks to its glow can scare off predators, might already have become extinct.

In another entry on the list, the scientists note that a black fungus is threatening the pre-historic paintings in the Lascaux caves in France. First discovered in 2001, the fungus was scientifically described in 2012 and given the name Ochroconis anomala.

Decline

A picture of an insect on Flickr, the internet photo portal, roused the curiosity of biologists. They ended up identifying the fluorescent fly as a new species and named it Semachrysa jade after the photographer's daughter Jade.

On Madagascar researchers came across a previously unknown species of a bush which is common in Africa. The evergreen Eugenia petrikensis once flourished along Madagascar's eastern coast, but has become rare due to human settlement, the authors wrote.

An insect that lived 165 million years ago, was discovered in sediment-based fossils in China. It resembled the leaf of a gingko tree - most likely in order to snare its prey more easily. Scientists gave it the name Juracimbrophlebia ginkgofolia.

According to Arizona State University, 10 to 12 million plant and animal species populate the earth. But given the rapid decline, efforts should be speeded up to try to search for as yet undiscovered species, said Quentin Wheeler, director of the School of Life Sciences.
Read more on:    animals  |  plants

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