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163 new species, including ‘Klingon Salamander’, discovered

Tylototriton anguliceps, or ‘Klingon Newt’ (Porrawee Pomchote).

Tylototriton anguliceps is his name, but Klingon Newt is much easier to pronounce. Someone decided that he looks like a Klingon from “Star Trek”, so that is what the World wildlife Fund is calling him.

He is a salamander found in Thailand, that, if he is lucky, it can grow into something more than 2½ cm long. And while that may sound small, it is downright Brobdingnagian compared to Leptolalax iso’s, also known as the Orange-Eyed Litter Frog from Cambodia and Vietnam, which is smaller than 1¼ inches long.

What newt and the frog have in common is that they are two of the 163 new species discovered in 2015 in the Greater Mekong Region in Southeast Asia. Among the others, as reported by the World wildlife Fund, are:

* A rainbow-headed snake discovered in Laos who looks like David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust;

* A rare banana species found in Thailand;

* A gecko with light blue spotted skin and piercing dark eyes, which was discovered in Laos;

* A purple, mouse-eared flower found in Burma;

* A wooly-headed bat found in Vietnam.

The Mekong River, which runs from China’s Tibetan Plateau of Qinghai to the South china Sea off the coast of South Vietnam, has grown to be a Xanadu for scientists, who discovered 2,409 new species in the area between 1997 and 2015, and are currently found at the rate of two per week.

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“The Greater Mekong region is a magnet for the world of conservation scientists as a result of the incredible diversity of species that continue to be discovered,” says Jimmy Borah, wildlife program manager for WWF-Greater Mekong, in a statement.

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Parafimbrios lao, the rainbow-headed snake discovered in Laos who looks like David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust (Alexandre Teynié).

“These scientists are the unsung heroes of the planet, know that they are a race against time to ensure that these newly discovered species are protected and saved.”

Of the 163 species discovered in 2015 included nine amphibians, 11 fish, 14 reptile, 126 plants, and three mammals.

None of them were previously known to exist, and, as a result of the destruction of our environment, and the ability to be captured by poachers or illegal wildlife traders, it is unknown whether they can continue to exist.

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“A lot of collectors are willing to pay thousands of dollars or more for the rarest, most unique and most endangered species, but they buy from the region’s illegal wildlife markets, particularly in the Golden Triangle, the region where China, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar come together,” Borah said.

“To save them, it is crucial that we improve the enforcement against poaching and connect illegal wildlife markets as the tiger and bear farms who openly flaunt wildlife laws.”

Alexandre Teynié, one of a team that found the “Ziggy Stardust” snake, aka Parafimbrios lao, said the discoveries are “a small step on the way to the living heritage of humanity. A small but bright spot for the understanding of the history of the population, the evolution of life, and a sense of humility for our ignorance.

“If we are able to ensure the protection of these vital landscapes and the biodiversity they hold, then we can ensure that future generations will be able to make their own new discoveries and add to our collective understanding of the world around us.”

 

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