Gecko and Ghost Orchid: "Invisible" Species Discovered


Photo credit: Dr. Lee Grismer

A gecko found in the rocky foothills of Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains has been declared a new species after examination of its unique color pattern and scale characteristics. And the Ghost Orchid, a rare plant named for its almost transparent flowers and habit of hiding underground for years, has been found again in the UK after being declared extinct. What do these two fantastic biodiversity finds have in common? We have the dedicated pursuit of a pair of sharp-eyed fellows to thank.The new gecko is so well camouflaged that it may escape notice altogether. It was found during a reptile and amphibian survey led by Dr Lee Grismer, La Sierra University and FFI in June 2007. It will be named 'Cnemaspis neangthyi' in honor of Cambodian scientist Mr. Neang Thy, who heads up conservation charity Fauna & Flora International's (FFI) Cardamom Mountains Research Group. "Maybe this will also help to involve Cambodian people more in the conservation of species, landscapes and habitats. If we do not do this, many animals in Cambodia may soon become extinct and we will not be able to show them to our children." Neang said.


Photo Credit: BerndH Guardian

The rediscovery of the translucent ghost orchid blossom is credited to the "painstaking detective work of an amateur botanist, Mark Jannink," who allegedly greeted the flower with the words "Hello you? so there you are!" There had been no sightings of the ghost orchid since 1986. It was declared extinct in the UK in 2005.

The ghost orchid does not rely on photosynthesis. Instead, it gets its nutrients from a symbiotic fungus that grows on its roots. Therefore, it can remain underground for many seasons before blooming only when conditions are just right. The small plant emerges in the areas of deepest leaf biomass, helping to further elude casual passers-by.

More on New Species:
New Species Discovered Thanks to Vomiting Snake
Incredible New Species Discovered in Ecuador
Birdfeeders Found to Cause Evolution of New Species
94 New Species Described by the California Academy of Sciences in 2009

Tags: Conservation | Endangered Species | Extinction

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