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Scientists discover new wildlife 'Noah's Ark' in Colombia

Latest update : 2009-02-02

A three week expedition in Colombia's northwestern Tacarcuna region lead to the discovery of at least ten new species of amphibians and over 100 other species unique to the region. The scientists labelled the area a "true Noah's Ark".

AFP - Scientists announced Monday the discovery of 10 amphibian species in Colombia potentially new to science, including an orange-legged rain frog, three poison frogs and three transparent "glass" frogs.

 

During a three-week expedition in Colombia's northwestern Tacarcuna hills in the Darien Gap bordering Panama, scientists identified about 60 species of amphibians, 20 reptiles and almost 120 species of birds, many of them apparently unique to the area.
 

"Without a doubt this region is a true Noah's Ark," said Jose Vicente Rodriguez-Mahecha, Conservation International's scientific director in Colombia.

 

"The high number of new amphibian species found is a sign of hope, even with the serious threat of extinction that this animal group faces in many other regions of the country and the world."
 

The expedition, led by CI herpetologists and ornithologists from Colombia's Ecotropico Foundation, yielded potentially new species of amphibians, including three glass frogs, whose transparent skin can reveal internal organs, a harlequin frog, two rain frogs and one salamander.

 

The group said Colombia has one of the most diverse amphibian communities in the world, with 754 species currently recorded.
 

"Scientists consider amphibians important indicators of ecosystem health," the group said in a statement. Many species are impacted by climate change.

 

"With porous, absorbent skin, they often provide early warnings of environmental degradation caused by acid rain, or contamination from heavy metals and pesticides that can also harm people."

 

The scientists found large mammals, such as the endangered Baird's tapir, white-lipped peccary and four species of monkeys -- Geoffroy's spider monkey, Geoffroy's tamarin, the white-throated capuchin and the mantled howler monkey.
 

Other findings included Central American species never before recorded in northern South America, including a salamander, a rain frog, a small lizard and a snake.

 

"Once more we confirm we are leaders in natural diversity and not only in our region but in the world. Without a doubt this discovery represents a great milestone for science and human health," Colombian Environment Minister Juan Lozano said in a statement.

Date created : 2009-02-02

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