In just two years, scientists have discovered 380 animal and plant species in southeastern Asia that have never been described before.
Bangkok – Time and again, scientists succeed in making sensational discoveries in flora and fauna. This is also the case now in the Mekong region in Southeast Asia. In just two years, scientists have discovered 380 species of animals and plants that have never been described before.
Most of these species have been documented in Vietnam and Thailand, followed by Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, according to a recent report by the environmental foundation WWF. The new discoveries are proof of the biodiversity of the region, they say. But the joy is clouded. The discoveries also made it clear how much was at stake due to the increasing destruction of habitats.
Mekong region Biodiversity hotspot: Researchers discover 380 animal and plant species
The WWF report from 2020 already lists 224 new discoveries in the Mekong region, including 35 reptiles, 17 amphibians, 16 fish, one mammal and 155 plants. With the newly discovered species of the past two years, 1997 previously unknown plants, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals have been documented around the mighty Mekong River since 3389, WWF Germany announced.
In the Mekong region in southeastern Asia, researchers have discovered 380 animal and plant species in just two years that have never been described before. This also includes the frog species (Theloderma khoii) from northern Vietnam. © Nguyen Thien/dpa
State-of-the-art technologies would help in the work of scientists. For example, bioacoustics methods are used to analyze the sounds produced by animals, and there are also advances in genetic sequencing, the report says.
Sensational find in animals and plants: Unknown species in the Southeast Asian Mekong region
Among the newly discovered, previously unknown species in the Southeast Asian Mekong region include:
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Fancy a voyage of discovery?
- The blue-headed beautiful lizard (Calotes goetzi) from Cambodia, which changes color for defense.
- A species of frog (Theloderma khoii) from northern Vietnam, which camouflages itself with a moss-like skin structure.
- An extremely venomous snake (Bungarus suzhenae), named after a snake goddess from a Chinese legend.
- The mouse-eared bat (Myotis hayesi) from Cambodia, the only mammal on the list.
The mouse-eared bat (Myotis hayesi) has been discovered by researchers in Cambodia: The WWF published a photo of a skull of the previously unknown mammal. © Gábor Csorba
In addition, numerous flowers were discovered. New discoveries include, for example, the bright pink and yellow mini orchid Dendrobium fuscifaucium (Laos), as well as new species of begonias and rhododendrons.
Countless undiscovered species in Asia: Massive poaching poses a threat
"In the Mekong region, there are probably still countless species that science does not know. Animal and plant species could be wiped out forever before we even know about their existence," warned Stefan Ziegler of WWF Germany. Among other things, huge hydroelectric power plants and massive poaching pose a threat. The aim must be to protect the biologically valuable areas along the Mekong across borders and permanently, Ziegler stressed. (hg/dpa)