Scientists use Google Earth to discover new forest with undiscovered species

December 22nd, 2008 - 1:28 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 22 (ANI): Using Google Earth, a team of scientists has discovered a new forest in Mozambique in Africa, which has a host of undiscovered species.

According to a report in the Telegraph, this mountainous area of northern Mozambique in southern Africa had been overlooked by science due to inhospitable terrain and decades of civil war in the country.

However, while scrolling around on Google Earth, an Internet map that allows the viewer to look at satellite images of anywhere on the globe, scientists discovered an unexpected patch of green.

A British-led expedition was sent to see what was on the ground and found 7,000 hectares of forest, rich in biodiversity, known as Mount Mabu.

Julian Bayliss, a scientist for Kew based in the region, discovered Mount Mabu while searching on Google Earth for a possible conservation project.

He was looking at areas of land 5,400ft (1,600m) above sea level where more rainfall means there is likely to be forest.

To his surprise, he found the patches of green that denote wooded areas, in places that had not previously been explored. After taking a closer look on more detailed satellite maps, he went to have a look.

An expedition was organized, with 28 scientists from the UK, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania and Switzerland.

The group was able to stay at an abandoned tea estate but had to hack through difficult terrain and use 70 porters in order to carry out their investigations.

In just three weeks, the scientists found hundreds of different plant species, birds, butterflies, monkeys and a new species of giant snake.

They discovered three new species of Lepidoptera butterfly and a new member of the Gaboon viper family of snakes that can kill a human in a single bite.

There were also blue duiker antelope, samango monkeys, elephant shrews, almost 200 different types of butterflies and thousands of tropical plants.

The samples which the team took are now back in Britain for analysis.

It is believed that there are at least two more new species of plants and perhaps more new insects to discover.

According to Jonathan Timberlake, expedition leader, there may be other small pockets of biodiversity around the world that are yet to be discovered that could be stumbled upon by searching on Google Earth, especially in areas like Mozambique or Papua New Guinea which have not been fully explored yet. (ANI)

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