The damselfish Chrysiptera cymatilis is one of 1,060 new species found on or near the island of New Guinea (see map) between 1998 and 2008, according to a new report. Earth's largest tropical island is divided between Indonesia in the west and Papua New Guinea in the east.
The "striking" blue fish, found in 1999, lives in the pristine Coral Triangle, a region that supports the most diverse marine ecosystems on Earth, according to the report Final Frontier: Newly Discovered Species of New Guinea (1998—2008), by the conservation organization WWF.
"If you look at New Guinea in terms of biological diversity, it is much more like a continent than an island," Neil Stronach, program representative for WWF Western Melanesia, said in a statement.
However, poorly planned and unsustainable development on New Guinea—for example, logging and agriculture—is jeopardizing the future of many of these species, the report emphasized.
Photograph courtesy G.R. Allen, WWF
Giant Bent-Toed Gecko
Some 43 new reptile species were found on New Guinea during the report's ten-year period, including this giant bent-toed gecko, discovered in 2001 in Indonesia.
New Guinea, which scientists consider one of the world's "last truly unspoilt tropical wildernesses," covers less than 0.5 percent of Earth's landmass but is home to 6 to 8 percent of its species, according to WWF.
(Related pictures: "New Frogs, Tree Kangaroos Thrive in New Park.")
Photograph courtesy Paul Ritchie, WWF
The fleshy-flowered orchid (Cadetia kutubu) is one of eight new orchid species found in New Guinea's Kikori region during the decade-long survey.
The island's rain forests burst with some of the world's highest plant diversity—a hundred new orchid species were officially described between 1998 and 2008 alone.
(Related pictures: "Exotic New Orchids Discovered in New Guinea.")
Photograph courtesy Wayne Harris, WWF
Sporting a "mesmerizing pattern of turquoise and blue," the monitor lizard Varanus macraei was discovered on the island of Batanta, off the Peninsula of Papua, in 2001.
Reaching up to 3.3 feet (a meter) long, the species "is one of the most spectacular reptile discoveries anywhere," according to WWF.
The bird avoided detection for so long for two reasons: Few villagers had ventured into what they consider sacred mountains, and the species—unusual among honeyeaters—doesn't make much noise.
Photograph courtesy Bruce Beehler, WWF
The "magnificent" pink orchid Dendrobium limpidum was formally named in 2003.
Despite the recent recognition, the flower and other natural riches on New Guinea may soon disappear. Between 1972 and 2002, about 24 percent of Papua New Guinea's rain forests were cleared or degraded by logging or subsistence agriculture, according to the WWF report.