52 New Species Found in Borneo, Report Announces

December 19, 2006

A miniature fish, a tree frog with bright green eyes, and a catfish with a sticky belly are among 52 new species discovered within the past year in Borneo, according to a report released today.

The Southeast Asian island is shared by Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei (Malaysia map showing Borneo).

Borneo is the world's third largest island and home to some of the last pristine wildernesses in the world, says the international conservation group WWF.

The island's newfound species include 30 fish, 2 tree frogs, 16 ginger plants, 3 trees, and a large-leafed plant.

"I have no reason to doubt we will continue adding new species [from Borneo]," said Mark Wright, science advisor for Surrey, England-based WWF-UK, which released the report.

"In the last ten years we've been finding three new species every month, month after month," he added.

(Related photo: "'Chameleon' Snake Found in Borneo Forest" [June 27, 2006].)

Wright explained that Borneo, like South America's Amazon Basin and Africa's Congo Basin, lies in the equatorial belt, which is known for rich tropical biodiversity.

Borneo's geography is also extremely diverse, making for hundreds of unique habitats that house unique creatures adapted to these niches. Many of the new species are isolated to a single river or a side of a mountain, for example.

Amazing Species

A 0.35-inch-long (8.8-millimeter-long) fish called Paedocypris micromegethes was found in the island's acidic backwater peat swamps.

The translucent fish is the second smallest vertebrate, or animal with a backbone, in the world, scientists said. It's beat only by its even smaller cousin in Sumatra, P. progenetica, which measures 0.31 inch (7.9 millimeters) long.

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