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 user 2008-01-07 at 12:43:00 pm Views: 52
  • #19138

    Bio-rich Costa Rica’s new marvels

    Three new species of salamander have been discovered in a remote forest reserve in Costa Rica.
    They were among some 5,000 plants and animals recorded by scientists
    from London’s Natural History Museum during three expeditions to
    Central America.

    Two species are nocturnal, while the third is a dwarf variety, growing to little longer than a thumbnail.The three new finds bring the number of Costa Rican salamanders known to science to a total of 43.Salamanders eat insects and worms, and live in water or in moist areas.
    They usually feed at night and hide during the day, often hibernating
    during the winter.

    Some 300 species are known around the world, mainly in the Northern
    Hemisphere, but there have been few new discoveries since 1998, when
    five new salamanders were found in tropical east-central Mexico.The
    three new salamanders were found in La Amistad National Park, a Unesco
    World Heritage Site on the Costa Rica-Panama border.

    Two belong to the nocturnal


    genus; while the third, from the


    (dwarf salamander) family, is a diminutive 3cm (1 inch) in
    length.”Finding so many new species in one area is exciting,
    particularly as
    this is probably the only place in the world you can find these
    animals,” said the NHM’s Dr Alex Monro, who is leading the project.”It
    shows we still have a lot to learn about the variety of wildlife in
    this region. We have four more expeditions planned this year – who
    knows what we could find when we go back?”

    La Amistad National Park has few roads and treacherous terrain, so
    remains largely unexplored.Scientists believe the region is a centre
    for diversity for these
    tailed amphibians. It is thought to be home to some two-thirds of all
    Costa Rica’s native species, including hundreds of birds, mammals,
    reptiles and other amphibians, and thousands of plants.

    The new species will be named and catalogued by
    scientists at the University of Costa Rica. The Natural History Museum
    is working alongside scientists and officials in Costa Rica and Panama
    on the project, funded by the UK government’s Darwin Initiative to
    promote biodiversity conservation.