Fascinating New Species Found in Papua New Guinea

Photo: Piotr Naskrecki, Conservation International

When it comes to finding fascinating species previously unknown to science, it turns out that forests of Papua New Guinea are a darn good place to look. Researchers have recently disclosed their discoveries from a two-month long expedition to the country last year, in which they happened upon over two hundred species never before recorded -- like the tube-nosed fruit bat pictured above. Strangely familiar he is, though from where I know not.According to a report from Huliq, the expedition was undertaken over the course of two months in 2009 by the Conservation International Rapid Assessment Program -- a group that aims to explore for unique life in some of the world's most remote regions. Traveling through the forests of Papua New Guinea, two teams of researchers managed to find dozens of new frog species, nine new plants, two new mammals, and nearly 100 new insects.

Encountering such an assortment of previously undiscovered species is something even experienced biologists didn't think was possible in this day and age. The crew's lead researcher, Steve Richards, expresses his surprised to the AFP:

To find a completely new genus of mammal in this day and age is pretty cool. I mean, people have heard of birds of paradise and tree-climbing kangaroos and stuff, but when you look even closer at the small things you just realize that there's a staggering diversity out there that we really know nothing about.

Such new discoveries, like pink-eyed katydids, carnivorous plants, and a unique species of tree-dwelling ants will now find their place in the annals of science literature. Still others, like a type of frog that skips the tadpole stage and a white-tailed mouse that has no close relatives may even change the way biologists look at their previously discovered counterparts

Perhaps hinting at the possibility of future expeditions, Richards suggests that the forests of Papua New Guinea still hold many more species yet to be found. "I would say that pretty much no matter where you go in New Guinea you're guaranteed to pick up new or poorly known spectacular species."

Photo: Piotr Naskrecki, Conservation International

The expedition turned up numerous species of katydid previously unknown to science, like this curious-looking pink-eyed specimen. Of the 120 different types of katydids found, 40 of them turned out to be first-time discoveries.

Photo: Piotr Naskrecki, Conservation International
This tiny frog first made its presence known to the research team by its "soft, scratching, cricket-like," says Conservation International. Tracking it down proved to be no easy task, however -- but after seeing just how small the frog actually is, it's no wonder why.

Photo: Andrea Lucky, Conservation International
This big-headed ant was discovered after researchers accidentally dropped some food near their camp. "That's actually one of the best ways to find ants," entomologist Leeann Alonso told the National Geographic. "Sit down there, drop some food on the ground, and wait for them to come."

Photo: Stephen Richards, Conservation International
Researchers believe this species of mouse, with its unusual white-tipped tail, has no relation with any other mouse species. If that turns out to be the case, this would make it the first of an entire new genus.

More on Newly Discovered Species
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Tags: Bats | Biodiversity | Biology | Insects

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