"Walking" Sharks Among 50 New Species Found in Indonesia Reefs

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Biologists studying these sharks suggest they could serve as models for the first animals that moved from marine environments onto land, he adds.

McManus is fascinated by the mantis shrimp, which look and behave like praying mantises, insects whose arms flick out to catch their prey.

Scientists have clocked the shrimps' arms moving at 23 miles (37 kilometers) a second as they snare small fish and other reef critters. The speed and force has broken aquarium glass.

"That's a lot of power, by the way," McManus said. "These guys are the terrorists of the coral reef ... They are really powerful, dangerous animals."

Among the new fish species are several types of "flasher" wrasses, named for the brilliant pink, yellow, blue, and green colors males display to entice females to mate.

All the new species were discovered in less than six weeks, which McManus says is a remarkable feat. That many are sizable creatures like fish is even more impressive.

"Fish are not unknown groups," he said. "To find so many really says something about the uniqueness of this place."

Isolated Trove

Low human population density and surrounding deep and cold waters keep the peninsula isolated and protected, which likely helps explain the rich biodiversity, McManus says.

However, the region faces an increasing threat from the use of dynamite and cyanide to catch fish, as well as from pollution from nearby mining and logging operations.

McManus says the region's local government recently approached Conservation International for help in developing a program to protect the region's rich marine diversity.

"This is a wonderful resource for the people of the region and far into the future, if taken care of, will continue to generate resources for them," he said.

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