12:23 PM

New Species Found in New Guinea !

"Striking" Damselfish

Photograph courtesy G.R. Allen, WWF
The damselfish Chrysiptera cymatilis is one of 1,060 new species found on or near the island of New Guinea (see map) between 1998 and 2008, according to a new report. Earth's largest tropical island is divided between Indonesia in the west and Papua New Guinea in the east.
The "striking" blue fish, found in 1999, lives in the pristine Coral Triangle, a region that supports the most diverse marine ecosystems on Earth, according to the report Final Frontier: Newly Discovered Species of New Guinea (1998—2008), by the conservation organization WWF.
"If you look at New Guinea in terms of biological diversity, it is much more like a continent than an island," Neil Stronach, program representative for WWF Western Melanesia, said in a statement.
"Scientists found an average of two new species each week from 1998 [to] 2008—nearly unheard of in this day and age." (See pictures of more new species found in Papua New Guinea, including a "Yoda bat.")
However, poorly planned and unsustainable development on New Guinea—for example, logging and agriculture—is jeopardizing the future of many of these species, the report emphasized.

Giant Bent-Toed Gecko

Photograph courtesy Paul Ritchie, WWF
Some 43 new reptile species were found on New Guinea during the report's ten-year period, including this giant bent-toed gecko, discovered in 2001 in Indonesia.
New Guinea, which scientists consider one of the world's "last truly unspoilt tropical wildernesses," covers less than 0.5 percent of Earth's landmass but is home to 6 to 8 percent of its species, according to WWF.
(Related pictures: "New Frogs, Tree Kangaroos Thrive in New Park.")

Fleshy-Flowered Orchid

Photograph courtesy Wayne Harris, WWF
The fleshy-flowered orchid (Cadetia kutubu) is one of eight new orchid species found in New Guinea's Kikori region during the decade-long survey.
The island's rain forests burst with some of the world's highest plant diversity—a hundred new orchid species were officially described between 1998 and 2008 alone.
(Related pictures: "Exotic New Orchids Discovered in New Guinea.")

Turquoise Lizard

Photograph courtesy Lutz Obelgonner, WWF
Sporting a "mesmerizing pattern of turquoise and blue," the monitor lizard Varanus macraei was discovered on the island of Batanta, off the Peninsula of Papua, in 2001.
Reaching up to 3.3 feet (a meter) long, the species "is one of the most spectacular reptile discoveries anywhere," according to WWF.
(Read about another recently found monitor lizard with a double penis.)

Rainbow Fish

Photograph courtesy G.R. Allen, WWF
New Guinea has some of the most beautiful freshwater fish found anywhere, including tiny and vibrantly colored rainbow fish, according to WWF.
Seven new species of rainbow fish, including Chilatherina alleni (pictured) were found in New Guinea during the ten-year period.
(See picture: "New 'Rainbow Glow' Jellyfish Found.")

Blue-Eyed Spotted Cuscus

Photograph courtesy Tim Flannery, WWF
The blue-eyed spotted cuscus (Spilocuscus wilsoni) is a small possum that was found in 2004 on Indonesian New Guinea.
Overall, the island hosts the highest diversity of tree-dwelling marsupials in the world, with an incredible 38 species, WWF says.
(Watch video: "Elusive Tree Kangaroos Fitted With Video Cameras.")

Snub-Fin Dolphin

Photograph courtesy Guido J. Parra, WWF
Scientists made an unexpected discovery in the waters south of New Guinea in 2005: a new species of dolphin called the snub-fin.
Originally thought to be a member of the Irrawaddy dolphins, researchers later determined that snub-fins are their own species, with a different coloration, skull shape, and fin and flipper measurements. (Also read about a snub-nosed monkey that was found and eaten in Myanmar.)
The snub-fin was the first new dolphin species found anywhere in at least three decades. (Related pictures: "Few Remaining River Dolphins Indicators of River, Human Health.")

Wattled Smoky Honeyeater

Photograph courtesy Bruce Beehler, WWF
The wattled smoky honeyeater was found in 2005 during a Conservation International expedition into the mist-shrouded Foja Mountains of Indonesia's Papua Province.
The region is "as close to the Garden of Eden as you're going to find on Earth," expedition leader Bruce Beehler is quoted as saying in the WWF report.
(Related pictures: "New Species Found in "Lost World": Pinocchio Frog, More.")
The bird avoided detection for so long for two reasons: Few villagers had ventured into what they consider sacred mountains, and the species—unusual among honeyeaters—doesn't make much noise.

"Magnificent" Orchid

Photograph courtesy Bob Bower, B2 Photography/WWF
The "magnificent" pink orchid Dendrobium limpidum was formally named in 2003.
Despite the recent recognition, the flower and other natural riches on New Guinea may soon disappear. Between 1972 and 2002, about 24 percent of Papua New Guinea's rain forests were cleared or degraded by logging or subsistence agriculture, according to the WWF report.



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