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MonstrosaOffline
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PostPosted: 16-08-2013 19:29    Post subject: Reply with quote

The article says that they've been known for years, just misidentified as Olingos.
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 17-08-2013 10:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

kamalktk wrote:

About 10 years ago, researchers began suspecting that olinguitos did exist. While rooting through some museum drawers and cabinets at the National Museum, a mammal expert at the Smithsonian Zoo noticed that a collection of bones — labeled for a family of small, furry South American mammals called olingos — didn't completely match. These raccoon-like critters, which hail from the Andean forests, hadn't been too widely studied. So the scientist decided to have a closer look.

Indeed, some of the 16 skeletons in the olingo collection were smaller boned, had larger teeth and smaller skulls. On Thursday, Kristopher Helgen, Curator of Mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of History, and his fellow scientists announced their discovery.

Helgen has a knack for spotting new finds in museum stashes. Previously, after sorting through museum specimens, he identified two new species of hog badger, and helped reveal that two of those species were threatened by human activity.

I can see the above part of the olingo / olinguito story, being found encouraging by diehard proponents of the flesh-and-blood existence of the North American Bigfoot. A number of these folk contend that Bigfoot bones / skulls / teeth very probably exist, not on display, in the "back rooms" of various museums -- which have over the decades misidentified them, or set them aside in puzzlement, or forgotten that they have them. Hope springs eternal...
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Zilch5Offline
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PostPosted: 22-08-2013 04:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
New Slime-Spitting Velvet Worm Species Discovered in Vietnam

Very Happy

A new species of velvet worm has been discovered in the jungles of Vietnam. Unlike related velvet worms, however, this one has uniquely shaped hairs that cover its body, and it reaches a length of 2.5 inches long, said Ivo de Sena Oliveira, a researcher at the University of Leipzig, Germany, who described the species in Zoologischer Anzeiger.

The paper suggests that thousands of unknown species of velvet worms are just waiting to be found throughout the world's tropical rain forests. Oliveira's research suggests that in the Amazon rain forest alone, there may be a new species of velvet worm about every 15 miles.

Velvet worms are very difficult to find and are little known because they spend much of their lives hidden in moist areas in the soil, under rocks, or in rotting logs. They spend most of their time in this environments partially because their permeable skin makes them dry out quickly. The one time of the year that the Vietnamese species of velvet worm exits the soil is the rainy season.

The velvet worms' bodies are fluid-filled, covered in a thin skin and are kept rigid by pressurized liquid. This hydrostatic pressure is what allows them to walk, although very slowly, on fluid-filled, stubby legs that do not have any joints. The slowness, however, works to their advantage.

For hunting, the velvet worms sneak up on other insects or invertebrates. They hunt by spraying a net of glue onto their prey from two appendages on their backs. The "glue" material consists of a mix of proteins that impedes movement, so that the more the prey moves, the more it gets entangled. They usually choose to take down smaller creatures.

The new species of velvet work, Eoperipatus, totoros, is the first velvet worm to be described from Vietnam, noted study co-author Georg Mayer, who is also a researcher at the University of Leipzig.

The species was first found and listed in a 2010 report by Vietnamese researcher Thai Dran Bai, however this most current study is the first to describe the species in detail.[/b]


http://www.clevelandleader.com/node/21195
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rynner2Online
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PostPosted: 22-08-2013 06:45    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zilch5 wrote:
Quote:
New Slime-Spitting Velvet Worm Species Discovered in Vietnam
...
The paper suggests that thousands of unknown species of velvet worms are just waiting to be found throughout the world's tropical rain forests.

http://www.clevelandleader.com/node/21195

This echoes something I've been reading about in a thriller, set in Rome, and largely in the ancient underground parts of that city. There are several species of planarian worms that live in the damp parts of the underground, and when one is found in a recovered human corpse, the investigators are able to deduce that the man hadn't been killed where found (or indeed, in another crime scene they knew of) by identifying the exact species of Planarian worm, since the different species live in distinct areas.

(The book is "The Seventh Sacrament", by David Hewson.)

More disgusting info here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planarian

You can even buy your very own planarian!
http://www.planarians.org/
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 21-09-2013 13:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
New spiny rat discovered in 'birthplace of evolution'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24167219
By James Morgan
Science reporter, BBC News

Spiny rat found in Indonesia

The rat has unusually coarse, spikey fur on its back and a short tail with a distinctive white tip

Tufts of harsh, bristly hair and a white tail tip are among the defining features of a new rodent species discovered in Indonesia.

The Spiny Boki Mekot Rat was found in the mountain forests of Halmahera, in the Moluccas (Maluku) archipelago.

It was from these islands that Alfred Russel Wallace wrote to Charles Darwin, outlining his theory of evolution.

The region is rich in biodiversity but its wildlife is under threat from logging and mining firms.

Scientists hope the new mammal discovery will encourage greater exploration and conservation of the area.

Their findings are reported in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Under threat
The new rat was found in a remote, hilly region of Halmahera by an expedition team from the University of Copenhagen and Indonesia's Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense.

They laid traps baited with roasted coconut and peanut butter, placed on tree trunks and at burrow openings.

Among their findings was a previously unknown rodent with coarse, brownish grey fur on its back, and a whitish grey belly.

By analysing the rat's DNA and physical features such as its skull and teeth, they determined it was not only a new species, but an entirely new genus.

They named it Halmaheramys bokimekot after nearby Boki Mekot, a mountainous area under ecological threat due to mining and deforestation.

Continue reading the main story
Other new species in 2013
Tailorbird
The olinguito, Bassaricyon neblina, a new mammal carnivore
Cambodian tailorbird, Orthotomus chaktomuk, found in Phnom Penh (above)
A new, smaller-skulled species of the Hero Shrew called Scutisorex thori
A dinosaur named Nasutoceratops titusi, which means big-nose, horn-face
"This new rodent highlights the large amount of unknown biodiversity in this region and the importance of its conservation," said lead researcher Pierre-Henri Fabre, from the Centre for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

"It's very important that zoologists visit these islands to explore further."

Only six of the new rodents have so far been captured: three adult males and three females.

Little is known about their behaviour, but they are thought to be omnivorous, as the scientists found both vegetable and insect remains in their stomachs.

"This discovery shows how much of the richness of life is left to discover - especially in the Indonesian archipelago," says co-author Kristofer Helgen, of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, US.

Prof Helgen was among the team that recently discovered a giant rat living in a volcano crater in Papua New Guinea, as well as a new mammal carnivore in Colombia - the Olinguito.

"There are likely to be more undiscovered species of mammals in Indonesia than in any other country in the world," he says.

"Finding and documenting them is a task made urgent by huge environmental threats, especially logging and mining."

Birthplace of evolution
The new rodent also provides clues to how mammals evolved and spread across the "stepping stones" of the Moluccas - known as one of the birthplaces of evolutionary theory.

It was here in 1858 that the British naturalist Sir Alfred Russel Wallace famously wrote to Charles Darwin, outlining his ideas on the development of new species.

The correspondence led to their eventual co-publishing of a theory of natural selection.

Spiny rat
The rat could be just one of many undiscovered mammal species in Indonesia's remote mountain forests
Wallace had been struck by the incredible diversity of animals and insects in the Moluccas - a transition zone between Asia and Australasia.

He also observed a clear border between species in western and eastern Indonesia, leading him to define a zoological boundary - the Wallace Line.

And the discovery of this new rodent on Halmahera actually supports Wallace's original drawing of the boundary, the researchers say.

Most fauna on the island display eastern, Australasian characteristics. But H. bokimekot is different - its DNA indicates that it first arrived on Halmahera from the west - from Asia.

"It's amazing that the spiny rat once again confirms Wallace's thoughts," says Dr Lionel Hautier, at the Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge, UK.

"And as chance would have it, the discovery comes exactly 100 years after his death."
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kamalktkOffline
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PostPosted: 22-09-2013 22:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

A new species of legless lizard. What's unusual is that it was found at the end of the runway at the Los Angeles airport.
http://news.discovery.com/animals/new-species-of-legless-lizard-found-at-lax-130918.htm
==================

A bustling airport would hardly seem the place to find a new species of reclusive animal, but a team of California biologists recently found a shy new species of legless lizard living at the end of a runway at Los Angeles International Airport.

What’s more, the same team discovered three additional new species of these distinctive, snake-like lizards that are also living in some inhospitable-sounding places for wildlife: at a vacant lot in downtown Bakersfield, among oil derricks in the lower San Joaquin Valley and on the margins of the Mojave desert.

PHOTOS: Top 10 New Species Named

All are described in the latest issue of Breviora, a publication of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.

“This shows that there is a lot of undocumented biodiversity within California,” Theodore Papenfuss, one of the scientists, was quoted as saying in a press release.

Papenfuss, an amphibian and reptile expert at Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, made the discoveries with James Parham of California State University, Fullerton.

“These are animals that have existed in the San Joaquin Valley, separate from any other species, for millions of years, completely unknown,” Parham said.

Legless lizards look a lot like snakes, but they’re different reptiles. The lizards are distinguishable from their slithery relatives based on one or more of the following: eyelids, external ear openings, lack of broad belly scales and/or a very long tail. Snakes, conversely, have a long body and a short tail.

NEWS: New Giant Monitor Lizard Discovered

Legless lizards, represented by more than 200 species worldwide, are well adapted to life in loose soil, Papenfuss said. Millions of years ago, lizards on five continents independently lost their limbs in order to burrow more quickly into sand or soil, wriggling like snakes. Some still have vestigial legs.

Though up to 8 inches in length, the creatures are seldom seen because they live mostly underground, eating insects and larvae, and may spend their lives within an area the size of a dining table. Most are discovered in moist areas when people overturn logs or rocks. It’s interesting to consider the LAX-based lizard’s life, considering all of that airplane rumbling overhead!

The researchers are now working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to determine whether the lizards need protected status. Currently, the common legless lizard is listed by the state as a species of special concern.

“These species definitely warrant attention, but we need to do a lot more surveys in California before we can know whether they need higher listing,” Parham said.

Papenfuss noted that two of the species are within the range of the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, which is listed as an endangered species by both the federal and state governments.

“On one hand, there are fewer legless lizards than leopard lizards, so maybe these two new species should be given special protection,” he said. “On the other hand, there may be ways to protect their habitat without establishing legal status. They didn’t need a lot of habitat, so as long as they have some protected sites, they are probably OK.”

Image: Theodore Papenfuss and James Parham/UC Berkeley
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 04-10-2013 22:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Owl recorded in Oman could be a new species
By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/24374313

The team says the owl belongs to a genus that also includes the Tawny owl, familiar in Britain and Europe

Ornithologists working in Oman say an owl discovered in a remote, mountainous region could be a new species.

Wildlife sound-recordist Magnus Robb told BBC News that he heard the bird's call whilst trying to record the call of another type of owl.

After repeated trips to the remote site, he and a colleague - naturalist and photographer Arnoud van den Berg - captured photographs of the bird.

They have published their observations in the journal Dutch Birding.


Mr Robb's first recordings of the bird's unfamiliar hoot were a serendipitous discovery in March of this year.

"I was listening through my headphones, when I suddenly heard something completely different [to the owl species I was there to record]," he told BBC News.

"I know the other Arabian owl sounds quite well, and this was clearly something that didn't fit."

The bird call expert said he had a "good inkling straight away that this could be something new".

"I even phoned a colleague a few minutes later and said, 'I think I've just discovered a new species of owl."

owl
The team have spotted only seven of the owls in a single wadi in northern Oman
Mr Robb, who is involved in an international project called the Sound Approach, which aims to catalogue and understand bird sound, analysed the owls' call in detail.

This revealed that the bird was most likely to belong to a genus, or group of species, known as Strix.

Dr Wesley Hochachka from Cornell University's lab of ornithology commented that, in the last few decades, it had become "more accepted by ornithologists, particularly in tropical areas, that new species are being discovered based on distinctively different vocalisations".

The team plans to gather DNA evidence from the owl's feathers in order to confirm their find genetically.

But Prof Ian Newton, a bird expert from the UK's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said he found the evidence that the team had already provided convincing.

"Based on the recordings of songs and calls and on the good-quality photographs, I was also convinced that it should be placed within the genus Strix, which also contains the Tawny Owl of Britain and Europe," he told BBC News.

Mr Robb said he hoped eventually to name the new species the Omani owl, in honour of the Omani people.

"One of the reasons we've gone through this process of describing and confirming this as a new species so quickly is to get conservation for this owl as soon as possible," he explained to BBC News.

"Conservation can only start when this species is accepted and given some official status."

He hopes to return to Oman later this year in to learn more about the owl, its habitat and its behaviour.

So far, he and and his colleagues have found only seven of the birds in a single wadi in the remote, mountainous area of Oman.

"This suggests that it's a very rare creature indeed," he told BBC News.
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 07-10-2013 13:46    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vid at link.

Quote:
Exceptional fossil fish reveals new evolutionary mechanism for body elongation

October 7th, 2013 in Other Sciences / Archaeology & Fossils

The 240-million-year-old fossil find from Switzerland also revealed that this primitive fish was not as flexible as today's eels, nor could it swim as fast or untiringly as a tuna. Credit: Picture: UZH

The 240-million-year-old fossil find from Switzerland also revealed that this primitive fish was not as flexible as today's eels, nor could it swim as fast or untiringly as a tuna. Credit: Picture: UZH

?he elongated body of some present-day fish evolved in different ways. Paleontologists from the University of Zurich have now discovered a new mode of body elongation based on a discovery in an exceptionally preserved fossilfish from Southern Ticino. In Saurichthys curionii, an early ray-finned fish, the vertebral arches of the axial skeleton doubled, resulting in the elongation of its body and giving it a needlefish-like appearance.

Snake and eel bodies are elongated, slender and flexible in all three dimensions. This striking body plan has evolved many times independently in the more than 500 million years of vertebrate animals history. Based on the current state of knowledge, the extreme elongation of the body axis occurred in one of two ways: either through the elongation of the individual vertebrae of the vertebral column, which thus became longer, or through the development of additional vertebrae and associated muscle segments.

Long body thanks to doubling of the vertebral arches
A team of paleontologists from the University of Zurich headed by Professor Marcelo Sánchez-Villagra now reveal that a third, previously unknown mechanism of axial skeleton elongation characterized the early evolution of fishes, as shown by an exceptionally preserved form. Unlike other known fish with elongate bodies, the vertebral column of Saurichthys curionii does not have one vertebral arch per myomeric segment, but two, which is unique. This resulted in an elongation of the body and gave it an overall elongate appearance. "This evolutionary pattern for body elongation is new," explains Erin Maxwell, a postdoc from Sánchez-Villagra's group.

"Previously, we only knew about an increase in the number of vertebrae and muscle segments or the elongation of the individual vertebrae."


This video shows how the number of skeletal elements in the vertebral column became doubled in Saurichthys without an increase in the number of vertebrae. Credit: UZH

The fossils studied come from the Monte San Giorgio find in Ticino, which was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2003. The researchers owe their findings to the fortunate circumstance that not only skeletal parts but also the tendons and tendon attachments surrounding the muscles of the primitive predatory fish had survived intact. Due to the shape and arrangement of the preserved tendons, the scientists are also able to draw conclusions as to the flexibility and swimming ability of the fossilized fish genus. According to Maxwell, Saurichthys curionii was certainly not as flexible as today's eels and, unlike modern oceanic fishes such as tuna, was probably unable to swim for long distances at high speed. Based upon its appearance and lifestyle, the roughly half-meter-long fish is most comparable to the garfish or needlefish that exist today.

More information: Erin E. Maxwell, Heinz Furrer, Marcelo R. Sánchez-Villagra. Exceptional fossil preservation demonstrates a new mode of axial skeleton elongation in early ray-finned fishes. Nature Communications, October 7, 2013. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3570

Provided by University of Zurich

"Exceptional fossil fish reveals new evolutionary mechanism for body elongation." October 7th, 2013. http://phys.org/news/2013-10-exceptional-fossil-fish-reveals-evolutionary.html
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kamalktkOffline
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PostPosted: 12-10-2013 15:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

Complete with a great pic, the Laotian Flying Squirrel.
http://www.sci-news.com/biology/science-biswamoyopterus-laoensis-new-species-flying-squirrel-laos-01361.html
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rynner2Online
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PostPosted: 22-10-2013 21:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

First venomous crustacean found

Experts have found the first venomous crustacean - a centipede-like creature that lives in underwater caves.
The blind "remipede" liquefies its prey with a compound similar to that found in a rattlesnake's fangs.
It lives in underwater caves of the Caribbean, Canary Islands and Western Australia, feeding on other crustaceans.
The venom contains a complex cocktail of toxins, including enzymes and a paralysing agent.
The findings are detailed in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

The remipede (Speleonectes tulumensis) breaks down body tissues with its venom and then sucks out a liquid meal from its prey's exoskeleton.
Co-author Dr Ronald Jenner, a zoologist at London's Natural History Museum said: "The unique insights from this study really help improve our understanding of the evolution of animal venoms.
"The spider-like feeding technique of the remipede is unique among crustaceans. This venom is clearly a great adaptation for these blind cave-dwellers that live in nutrient-poor underwater caves."

Crustaceans are a large group of the wider category of animals known as arthropods. They include shrimp, krill, lobsters and crabs.
Most are aquatic, but a few - such as woodlice - live on land.

Dr Bjoern von Reumont, also from the Natural History Museum commented: "This is the first time we have seen venom being used in crustaceans and the study adds a new major animal group to the roster of known venomous animals.
"Venoms are especially common in three of the four major groups of arthropods, such as insects. Crustaceans, however, are a glaring exception to the rule.
"While they can be as varied as tiny waterfleas, krill, crabs and barnacles, not one of the approximately 70,000 described species of crustaceans was known, until now, to be venomous."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24625424
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Pietro_Mercurios
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PostPosted: 24-10-2013 15:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

WWF: Four year study finds over 400 species new to science in remote region of Amazon.

Quote:
http://worldwildlife.org/press-releases/monkey-that-purrs-like-a-cat-is-among-new-species-discovered-in-amazon-rainforest

Monkey that Purrs like a Cat is Among New Species Discovered in Amazon Rainforest

More than 400 new species described by scientists over four years in vast Amazon rainforest

World Wildlife Fund. Media Contact: Monica Echeverria 202-495-4626 monica.echeverria@wwfus.org. Amal Omer 202-495-4155. amal.omer@wwfus.org. October 23, 2013

Washington, D.C. – At least 441 new species of animals and plants have been discovered over a four year period in the vast, underexplored rainforest of the Amazon, including a monkey that purrs like a cat.

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. This 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 rainforest – 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: This beautiful lizard was found from the hatchlings of eggs collected by scientists in the Colombian Amazon. An elusive species, Cercosaura hypnoides, has not been seen in the wild since the original eggs were collected, raising the prospect that it could potentially be endangered.

    Thumbnail-sized frog: This amphibian is already believed to be highly endangered. In fact, its Latin name, Allobates amissibilis, meaning “that may be lost,” alludes to this as the area where it thrives could soon be opened to tourism. This is now the third Allobates species found in Guyana.

    Vegetarian Piranha: This new species of piranha, Tometes camunani, can span 20 inches wide and weigh up to 9 pounds, and is strictly herbivorous. The freshwater fish inhabits rocky rapids associated with seedlings of plants that grow among the rocks, its main source of food. Tometes is described from the upper drainages of the Trombetas River basin, Para, Brazilian Amazon.

    A brightly coloured snake from the “Lost World”: Found in the mountains of Guyana, this brightly-colored snake species was named Chironius challenger after Arthur C. Doyle's fictional character Professor George Edward Challenger in the novel, The Lost World.

    A beautiful pink orchid: Among the new plant species are a large number of new orchid species, including this splendid pink species, Sobralia imavieirae, officially described by scientists from Roraima in the Brazilian Amazon.

    Caqueta titi monkey: This new species, Callicebus caquetensis, is one of about 20 species of titi monkey, which all live in the Amazon basin. The babies have an endearing trait, “When they feel very content they purr towards each other,” explained scientist Thomas Defler.


Many of the new discoveries are believed to be endemic to the Amazon rainforest and are found nowhere else in the world. This makes them even more vulnerable to rainforest destruction that occurs every minute across the Amazon.

“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.

Editor’s Notes:

Photos and credits, and the list of the 441 discoveries can be accessed here:
http://wwf.to/1cbSqLy

Methodology
This research presents a list of the new species from the Amazon Biome discovered from 2010 to 2013. Describing a new species refers to the official process by which a species is identified in the peer-reviewed scientific literature once discovered and therefore formally determined as ‘new’. Species currently awaiting official scientific recognition have not been included.

This research has tried to be comprehensive in its listing of new plants and vertebrates, but for the largest group of life on Earth, invertebrates, such lists do not exist – so the total number of new species presented here is an underestimate.

ABOUT WWF
WWF is the world’s leading conservation organization, working in 100 countries for nearly half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit www.worldwildlife.org to learn more.

About WWF Living Amazon Initiative
The Living Amazon Initiative spearheads WWF Network’s efforts to guarantee an ecologically healthy Amazon Biome that maintains its environmental and cultural contribution to local peoples, the countries of the region and the world, by maintaining ecological processes and services within a framework of that propitiates inclusive economic development with social equity and global responsibility.


Last edited by Pietro_Mercurios on 24-10-2013 16:02; edited 2 times in total
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 24-10-2013 15:59    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any sign of De Loys' Ape?
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titchagainOffline
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PostPosted: 24-10-2013 22:03    Post subject: Reply with quote

wasn't that proven to be a hoax?
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EnolaGaiaOffline
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PostPosted: 24-10-2013 22:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Proven a hoax? That's probably too strong a claim ...

However, in 2012 reference to a 1962 letter to the editor by someone claiming to have actually been on the expedition in question certainly offered a distinctly different (and hoax-y) account ...

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/history-of-geology/2012/10/07/de-loys-ape/

http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4302
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 28-10-2013 16:45    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
'Lost world' discovered in remote Australia
October 28th, 2013 in Biology / Plants & Animals

Image provided by Conrad Hoskin of James Cook University Queensland on October 28, 2013 shows the Cape Melville Leaf-tailed Gecko discovered in Australia's Cape York Peninsula

An expedition to a remote part of northern Australia has uncovered three new vertebrate species isolated for millions of years, with scientists Monday calling the area a "lost world".

Conrad Hoskin from James Cook University and a National Geographic film crew were dropped by helicopter onto the rugged Cape Melville mountain range on Cape York Peninsula earlier this year and were amazed at what they found.

It included a bizarre looking leaf-tail gecko, a gold-coloured skink—a type of lizard—and a brown-spotted, yellow boulder-dwelling frog, none of them ever seen before.

"The top of Cape Melville is a lost world. Finding these new species up there is the discovery of a lifetime—I'm still amazed and buzzing from it," said Hoskin, a tropical biologist from the Queensland-based university.

"Finding three new, obviously distinct vertebrates would be surprising enough in somewhere poorly explored like New Guinea, let alone in Australia, a country we think we've explored pretty well."

The virtually impassable mountain range is home to millions of black granite boulders the size of cars and houses piled hundreds of metres high, eroded in places after being thrust up through the earth millions of years ago.

While surveys had previously been conducted in the boulder-fields around the base of Cape Melville, a plateau of boulder-strewn rainforest on top, identified by satellite imagery, had remained largely unexplored, fortressed by massive boulder walls.

Within days of arriving, the team had discovered the three new species as well as a host of other interesting finds that Hoskins said may also be new to science.

Graphic on three new vertebrate species discovered in a remote part of northern Australia


The highlight was the leaf-tailed gecko, a "primitive-looking" 20 centimetre-long (7.9 inches) creature that is an ancient relic from a time when rainforest was more widespread in Australia.

The Cape Melville Leaf-tailed Gecko, which has huge eyes and a long, slender body, is highly distinct from its relatives and has been named Saltuarius eximius, Hoskin said, with the findings detailed in the latest edition of the international journal Zootaxa.

"The second I saw the gecko I knew it was a new species. Everything about it was obviously distinct," he said.

Highly camouflaged, the geckos sit motionless, head-down, waiting to ambush passing insects and spiders.

The Cape Melville Shade Skink is also restricted to moist rocky rainforest on the plateau, and is highly distinct from its relatives, which are found in rainforests to the south.

Also discovered was a small boulder-dwelling frog, the Blotched Boulder-frog, which during the dry season lives deep in the labyrinth of the boulder-field where conditions are cool and moist, allowing female frogs to lay their eggs in wet cracks in the rocks.

In the absence of water, the tadpole develops within the egg and a fully formed frog hatches out.

Image provided by Conrad Hoskin of James Cook University Queensland on October 28, 2013 shows the Cape Melville boulder-dwelling frog discovered in Australia's Cape York Peninsula

Once the summer wet season begins the frogs emerge on the surface of the rocks to feed and breed in the rain.

Tim Laman, a National Geographic photographer and Harvard University researcher who joined Hoskin on the expedition, said he was stunned to know such undiscovered places remained.

"What's really exciting about this expedition is that in a place like Australia, which people think is fairly well explored, there are still places like Cape Melville where there are all these species to discover," he said.

"There's still a big world out there to explore."

Image provided by Conrad Hoskin of James Cook University Queensland on October 28, 2013 shows the Cape Melville Shade Skink discovered in Australia's Cape York Peninsula

According to National Geographic, the team plans to return to Cape Melville within months to search for more new species, including snails, spiders, and perhaps even small mammals.

"All the animals from Cape Melville are incredible just for their ability to persist for millions of years in the same area and not go extinct. It's just mind-blowing," Hoskin said.
© 2013 AFP

"'Lost world' discovered in remote Australia." October 28th, 2013. http://phys.org/news/2013-10-lost-world-remote-australia.html
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