Tuesday, February 10, 2009
1000 NEW SPECIES FOUND IN MEKONG-"BIOLOGICAL TREASURE TROVE"
Scientists have discovered more than 1,000 species in Southeast Asia's Greater Mekong region in the past decade, including a spider as big as a dinner plate.
The species were all found in the rainforests and wetlands along the Mekong River, which flows through Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the southern Chinese province of Yunnan.
These included the world's largest huntsman spider, with a leg span of 30 centimetres, and the "startlingly" coloured "dragon millipede", which produces the deadly compound cyanide.
One species of pitviper was first noted by scientists after it was found in the rafters of a restaurant at the headquarters of Thailand's Khao Yai National Park in 2001.
A rat thought to have become extinct 11 million years ago and a cyanide-laced, shocking pink millipede were among creatures found.
The new species highlighted in the report include 519 plants, 279 fish, 88 frogs, 88 spiders, 46 lizards, 22 snakes, 15 mammals, four birds, four turtles, two salamanders and a toad - an average of two previously undiscovered species a week for the past 10 years.