12.22.2008

New Beauties, New Beasts



The tragedy of our times--one of them anyway--is the discovery of new species who may be threatened with extinction even before they've been known long enough to get a common name. Global warming, habitat destruction, and a host of other threats endanger rain forest denizens all over the world. We're taking inventory while the store shuts down. It's urgent work.
In the last decade researchers in the Mekong River system, which flows through parts of Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and China's Yunnan Province, have discovered nearly 1,000 new-to-science species. There are some weird ones, like the pink, cyanide-spewing dragon millipede (that thing looks dangerous), the poisonous Gumprecht's Green pitviper (ditto), and that spooky spider, big as a dinner plate but harmless. Still, I wouldn't want to run into that spindly arachnoid in the dark cave where he was found.


But there are some beauties alongside those beasts. Roughly half of the discoveries are from the plant kingdom, including finds such as the fiery Aeschynanthus mendumiae and the purple-kissed blue Gentiana khammouanensis, both of which were discovered in Laos. For the straight scoop on the World Wildlife Federation's Greater Mekong Programme (the source for these photos), check this news story.

10 comments:

inadvertentfarmer said...

Now that is one gorgeous snake, wow! You are right it is indeed a tragedy, so many new and interesting species and to know that they might not be around much longer is heartbreaking.

IBOY said...

I also would NOT mess with the millipide!
Don

Chandramouli S said...

Is that snake really true? I mean not photoshop edited? That pink millipede gives me goosebumps... eewww... But the flower immediately calmed me down. I can never say this enough times... I learnt yet another lesson today.

Aerie-el said...

Well said. Painful to think about. Hope change happens before it's too late.

The photos are incredible, as always. The colors in nature are truly amazing and simply stunning.

~Aerie-el

lisa said...

Amazing to think that they are still discovering new creatures...I think they're all beautiful!

Steve Silk said...

IF--Yeah, I thought the snake color coordinated really well with my blog's hues. I hope these new species are all around for some time to come.

Steve Silk said...

IBOY--Good thought. Who wants to get hosed down with cyanide?

Steve Silk said...

Chandramouli--That snake is as true as its source, WWF. Sometimes the most beautiful things are the most deadly.

Steve Silk said...

Hello Aerie-el--Wish I could take credit for the pix, I skimmed them off the Programme's site.

Steve Silk said...

Lisa-Thankfully there are still discovering a lot of new species, but then many others go extinct. I wonder whether we're seeing a net gain in total number of known species, or a net loss.