This enviable title has been awarded to Manu National Park in Peru, now believed to contain the greatest variety of terrestrial species on Earth. Following exhaustive research conducted across 16 of the most biodiverse places in the world, using 60 camera traps, Manu’s pristine mosaic of 14 different ecosystems came out on top. The study was carried out by the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring [TEAM] Network, utilising systematic field station data collection procedures honed over many years to ensure the utmost veracity. Their work serves to identify trends in species diversity, which can then inform and shape conservation strategy.
Image courtesy of the Wildlife Conservation Society/Tim Davenport. Continue reading New Species of Chameleon Discovered in Tanzania
In the first of a new spotlight series, I’ll be profiling our planet’s most biodiverse regions. The 2,700 mile Mekong river and its surrounding areas make up the Greater Mekong region and spans across Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and the southern province of Yunnan in China. Since 1997, over 1500 new species have been discovered by the scientific community, as previously unexplored areas were studied. The variety of habitats it contains are every bit as rich as the wildlife, with ecosystems as diverse as: lush rainforest, dry savannah, wetlands and swamp.
The Hog-Nosed Shrew Rat, which possesses morphological features that are believed to be new to science, was found by a team of scientists from the Museum Victoria in Australia, Louisiana State University in the United States and the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense in the Netherlands. The bizarre looking creature, which bears a strong resemblance to species of the Bandicoot family, was uncovered within the isolated montane forests of Mount Dako on the island of Sulawesi. Much of Sulawesi’s unique wildlife remains shrouded in mystery, as it’s unlike the fauna of either Asia or Australasia.
The colony was found on the uninhabited Madagascan island of Nosy Hara, which lies 6km from the most northerly point of Madagascar. They appear to have no fear of humans and could be a completely new species unique to the island. The extraordinary discovery was made by primatologist, Charlie Gardner and his nature photographer wife, Louise Jasper, while on holiday on Nosy Hara. Gardner has spent the last decade studying lemurs on Madagascar and stumbled upon the mysterious creatures while walking through the forest during the evening. Two individuals were spotted within ten minutes of each other, followed by a group of four feeding the next night.
The discovery was made on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which is shared between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and the creature has come to be known as the James Bond Hutia. It has been named after a naturalist who once studied the island’s wildlife and was the first to observe that the flora and fauna on either side of a shallow sea channel running across the island was considerably different. Moreover, Ian Fleming’s now universally recognised spy character was actually based – in name only – on this unassuming ornithologist.
Scientists made the discovery deep within the Andean cloud forests of Ecuador and Peru; an area that remains under-explored. The trio of creatures new to science belong to the group commonly known as Wood Lizards. Following observations that they contained different colourations and scale design to known species, DNA tests confirmed each was a new addition to this family of reptile – the majority of which have only been identified in recent years.
Image courtesy of Adriano Gambarini
A new species of Titi monkey found in Brazil has been officially confirmed as being new to scientist. Originally first spotted at a riverside in 2011 by a researcher who observed that the fur colour did not match any known variation of Titi monkey, an investigation backed by the Conservation Leadership Programme was launched to identify it. Subsequent explorations confirmed the unusual pelage patterns and the fact they are predominantly arboreal and live in small family groups consisting of birth parents and the offspring.
The new species of snailfish, which was recorded at a depth of 8,145 metres, exists in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean near Guam, and was spotted during the international expedition to comprehensively survey the world’s deepest location. The sighting beats the previous record by 500 metres. The 30-day journey into the abyss was filmed by the University of Aberdeen’s Hadal-Lander, with the aim of gaining the most in-depth understanding yet of this ecosystem. The study was led by scientists from the University of Hawaii and consisted of marine biologists, geologists, microbiologists and geneticists.