Ziggy Stardust snake, litter frog and Klingon newt among new finds

19 Dec 20166 Shares

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The orange-eyed litter frog (Leptolalax isos), found in the Greater Mekong subregion. Image: Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

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Check out nine incredible new species discovered in the Greater Mekong subregion in 2015, as threats loom on the horizon.

In 2015 alone, nine amphibians, 11 fish, 14 reptiles, 126 plants and three mammals were discovered in the Greater Mekong subregion, with one river responsible for immense life.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been highlighting the discoveries this week, as the likes of a ‘Ziggy Startdust’ snake, a Phuket horner tree agamid, a woolly-headed bat and a Klingon newt have their species published for the first time.

Mekong

The Mekong River is incredible, taking in China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, before entering the South China Sea through Vietnam.

Between 1997 and 2015, more than 2,400 new species have been described in the region, with scientists naturally drawn to a biodiversity dream world.

WWF’s latest report highlights the array of often eye-catching discoveries, with a natural word of warning that these ecosystems are facing grim threats.

Poaching, general encroachment and river dams are three such reasons to be concerned, adding to a recent report from WWF that global wildlife populations could plummet by two-thirds in the coming years.

Described as a “shock to read” at the time by Johan Rockström of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the findings of the Living Planet Report 2016 suggested that if the data covering the last 40 years is accurate, then the next few years could prove disastrous for the planet.

Discoveries like those made in the Greater Mekong subregion act as glaring reminders of how much there is still to be explored.

Here are nine of the latest finds:

2tylototriton-anguliceps

Klingon newt – Tylototriton anguliceps. Image: Nguyen Truong Son

Orange-eyed litter frog – Leptolalax isos. Image: Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

Orange-eyed litter frog – Leptolalax isos. Image: Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

Gekko bonkowskii. Image: Thomas Calame

Gekko bonkowski. Image: Thomas Calame

Phuket horned tree agamid – Acanthosaura phuketensis. Image: Montri Sumontha

Phuket horned tree agamid – Acanthosaura phuketensis. Image: Montri Sumontha

‘Ziggy Stardust’ snake - Parafimbrios lao. Image: Alexandre Teynié

‘Ziggy Stardust’ snake – Parafimbrios lao. Image: Alexandre Teynié

Wooly-headed bat – Murina kontumensis. Image: Nguyen Truong Son

Woolly-headed bat – Murina kontumensis. Image: Nguyen Truong Son

Leptolalax isos. Image: Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

Leptolalax isos. Image: Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

Purple mouse-eared flower. Image: Jin Murata

Purple mouse-eared flower. Image: Jin Murata

‘The banana pride of nan – Musa nanensis. Image: Wande Inta

The banana pride of Nan – Musa nanensis. Image: Wande Inta

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Gordon Hunt is a journalist at Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com