Crocs Uncover

Bizarre Species

viernes, 8 de octubre de 2010

More Rare Species Found

A Nose for Fruit

Photograph courtesy Piotr Naskrecki, Conservation International

This tube-nosed fruit bat is just one of the roughly 200 species encountered during two scientific expeditions to Papua New Guinea in 2009—including a katydid that "aims for the eyes" and a frog that does a mean cricket impression, Conservation International announced late Tuesday.

Though seen on previous expeditions, the bat has yet to be formally documented as a new species, or even named. Like other fruit bats, though, it disperses seeds from the fruit in its diet, perhaps making the flying mammal crucial to its tropical rain forest ecosystem.

In all, the expeditions to Papua New Guinea's Nakanai and Muller mountain ranges found 24 new species of frogs, 2 new mammals, and nearly a hundred new insects. The remote island country's mountain ranges—which have yielded troves of new and unusual species in recent years—are accessible only by plane, boat, foot, or helicopter.

New Species Blends In
Photograph courtesy Piotr Naskrecki, Conservation International

Camouflaged in a Muller Range forest on Papua New Guinea, a new leaf katydid species peers pinkly at the camera in 2009. The animal likely eats flowers in the forest's tall trees, researchers said.

During one of the so called rapid assessment programs (RAPs)—quick expeditions involving "dream teams" of top scientists—Piotr Naskrecki and David Rentz collected 42 leaf katydids. At least 20 of those are new species, according to Conservation International.

Of the roughly 120 katydids—leaf katydids and others—the researchers collected, at least 40 are new species, Naskrecki said. "That's a very high number even for a tropical, fairly unexplored area."

Watching, Waiting
Photograph courtesy Stephen Richards, Conservation International

A feather-tailed opossum clings to a tree branch in Papua New Guinea's Muller Range in September 2009. Though it has yet to be scientifically documented, the elusive species has been reported once before before, on a nearby mountain in 1985.

The possum may have been attempting to catch moths, the researchers said, as it was found near a light trap intended to lure nocturnal insects. Not much is known about the creature, though the structure of its tongue suggests a diet including nectar.

Rare Jewel
Photograph courtesy Piotr Naskrecki, Conservation International

Found in the Muller Range in September 2009, a new, unnamed species of katydid glimmers dark emerald—a color Naskrecki, director of Conservation International's Invertebrate RAP, had never before seen in katydids.

Katydids, which are related to crickets and grasshoppers, play an important role in the rain forest's food chain, providing protein to monkeys, bats, birds, rodents, and even other insects.

The Muller Range expedition spent a week at each of three camps, each at a different elevation. Around each camp, the scientists found entirely new animals

Tiny New Frog
Photograph courtesy Piotr Naskrecki, Conservation International

A frog small enough to sit on a thumbnail rests on a leaf in Papua New Guinea's Muller Range in 2009.

This species "nearly eluded the RAP team altogether," as the scientists had to search the forest floor in pouring rain to trace the sound of the "soft, scratching, cricket-like" call, according to a Conservation International statement.

The frog and all its closest relatives are found only on the island of New Guinea.

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