Just in time for Halloween, scientists have announced the discovery of a vampire frog, or rather a fanged frog indigenous to the Mount Bosavi rainforest region on the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea. To add to the Halloween tableau, they also discovered a new species of bat and rat. The Daily Mail reported on Monday that in a five-week exploratory study of the inside of extinct volcano Mount Bosavi, a team of scientists from Oxford University, the London Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution joined with a BBC Natural History Unit’s film crew discovered over 40 new species of animals. As with all new species discoveries, there were some intriguing specimens, like the cat-sized (and friendly) Bosavi woolly rat and new species of fish that makes grunting noises with its swim bladder. Also among the new species were 16 varieties of frogs, which included the aforementioned fanged frog.
The fanged frog was joined by a pointed-nose frog as well, one that puffed up when it became alarmed. The small, emerald green sucker-footed frog, the Litoria sauroni, was also found in the Mount Bosavi crater. It is an endangered species.
The scientists say that the Mount Bosavi project illustrates a true ‘lost world.’ Mount Bosavi acts as an island ecosystem, the crater a home to new species not found anywhere else in the world. Steve Backshall, a climber and naturalist, told the The Guardian, “These discoveries are really significant.” Backshall made friends with the newly discovered and unafraid of humans Bosavi silky cuscus. The silvery haired marsupial sat on his shoulder while he talked. It is arborial — lives up trees — and feeds on fruits and leaves. “The world is getting an awful lot smaller and it is getting very hard to find places that are so far off the beaten track.”
Just a few miles away there are extensive logging operations taking place, a testament to the destruction of world’s rainforests.
Other amazing finds among the Mount Bosavi species are a lichen-resembling spider, an iridescent beetle, and a new species of striped opossum. The striped opossum emits a strong, unpleasant odor, much like a skunk, as a defense mechanism.
There have been several caches of new species discoveries within the past year.
Back in December, the World Wildlife Foundation announced the discovery of over a thousand uncatalogued new species in the Mekong Region of Southeast Asia. Among the discoveries was a poisonous magenta millipede, an emerald viper, the largest Huntsman spider yet discovered, and hundreds of frogs and fish species. There was even the rediscovery of the Laotian rock rat, a species thought to have went extinct 11 million years ago.
In January, Reuters reported that scientists from the Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the California Institute of Technology announced the discovery of several new species of fish, anemones, and corals. The deep-sea expedition uncovered a carnivorous sea squirt, some sea spiders, and giant sponges.
And in May, Madagascar turned out to be a frog haven, as the Spanish Scientific Research Council (CSIC) announced that it had discovered as many as 221 possibly new species of frogs. Researchers believe that such a plethora of new species of frogs can only mean that there are quite a number of other species of animals as well.
“People think that we know which plant and animal species live on this planet,” Dr. Miguel Vences, professor at the Technical University of Braunschweig (Germany) and a member of the study team on Madagascar, told CNN, “But the majority of life forms on Earth is still awaiting scientific recognition.”
So, take heart chupacabra and sasquatch hunters…
Pictures of new species, including giant Mount Bosavi woolly rat, a couple frogs, and that strange looking spider, at The Guardian.