Photo Gallery: Amazon Expedition Discovers Dozens of New Animals

Purple spotted toad discovered in Surinamese Amazon picture
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June 5, 2007—Sporting a flashy pattern of lavender on black, this newfound species of toad is among two-dozen animals that scientists discovered recently in the highlands of the northern Amazon.

Among the new creatures are four frogs, six species of fish, a dozen kinds of dung beetles, and a type of ant never before seen by scientists.

Researchers made the finds during a survey of remote plateaus in eastern Suriname from 2005 to 2006 (see map of Suriname).

Two mining companies sponsored the research, which was conducted by the nonprofit group Conservation International (CI), to determine the diversity of wildlife in the area before it undergoes further development. Though secluded, the region has already felt enough pressure from human activity to drive some animals to near extinction.

One of the expedition's welcome surprises was the re-discovery of an armored catfish that had not been seen in 50 years and was presumed extinct due to contamination by local gold mines.

The survey's findings underscore the importance of protecting Suriname's rare and delicate mountain forest habitats as the human footprint in the region grows, the scientists said.

"Suriname has some of the Amazon's most pristine and intact rainforest, which offers huge potential for scientific research and economic investment," CI's Leeanne Alonso, who led the survey, said in a statement.

"Our study will be a vital component in determining how to promote economic development in Suriname while protecting the nation's most valuable natural assets."

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