Hundreds of new species discovered in the Himalayas

August 11th, 2009 - 4:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 11 (IANS) Over 350 new species, including the world’s smallest deer, a “flying frog” and a 100 million-year-old gecko, have been discovered in the Eastern Himalayas, according to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report.
A decade of research carried out by scientists in remote mountain areas endangered by rising global temperatures brought exciting discoveries such as a bright green frog that uses its red and long webbed feet to glide in the air.

One of the most significant findings was not exactly “new” in the classic sense. A 100-million year-old gecko, the oldest fossil gecko species known to science, was discovered in an amber mine in the Hukawng Valley in northern Myanmar.

The report “The Eastern Himalayas - Where Worlds Collide” details discoveries made by scientists from various organisations between 1998 and 2008 in a region reaching across Bhutan and northeast India to the far north of Myanmar as well as Nepal and southern parts of Tibet.

The report describes more than 350 new species that have been discovered - including 244 plants, 16 amphibians, 16 reptiles, 14 fish, 2 birds, 2 mammals and at least 60 new invertebrates.

The report mentions the miniature muntjac, also called the “leaf deer”, which is the world’s oldest and smallest deer species.

“The good news of this explosion in species discoveries is tempered by the increasing threats to the Himalayas’ cultural and biological diversity,” said Jon Miceler, director of WWF’s Eastern Himalayas Program.

“This rugged and remarkable landscape is already seeing direct, measurable impacts from climate change and risks being lost forever,” Miceler added.

In December, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to reach an agreement on a new climate deal, which will replace the existing Kyoto Protocol.

In the Eastern Himalayas one can find 10,000 plant species, 300 mammal species, 977 bird species, 176 reptiles, 105 amphibians and 269 types of freshwater fish. The region also has the highest density of Bengal tigers in the world and is the last bastion of the charismatic greater one-horned rhino.

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