Saturday, December 20, 2008

Over 1,000 New Species Found in the Mekong

A recent CNN article discussed the findings of a report outlining over 1,000 species found along the Mekong river including the Laotian rock rat, a spider with foot-long legs, and a hot pink dragon millipede that produces cyanide. 

519 plants, 279 fish, 88 frogs, 88 spiders, 46 lizards, 22 snakes, 15 mammals, four birds, four turtles, two salamanders and a toad have been found so far. They're finding new species almost at a rate of 2 per week, but even as we make new discoveries, some are disappearing thanks to human development and destruction of their habitats. 

For example, a bovine found in 1991 living in the Annamite Mountains of Laos has not been seen in recent years. Local cultural beliefs also endanger several of the species: The more exotic the animal, the more status it often bestows on the one who consumes it.

We can only hope that more is done to proactively protect these fascinating creatures and our region's heritage of unique biodiversity. Hopefully we'll get the opportunity to highlight other creatures in the near future on this blog.

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