Bizarre, scary, terrifying. Such are the adjectives that need to be used when it comes to the plethora of animal and plant species newly found in the Greater Mekong region.
As reported in the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) today, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and a few more countries in the area are home to the strangest beings. To be more precise, in 2014 there were 139 species discovered, and all have finally received their scientific names.
But many more species have been discovered in the amazing biodiverse environment of Greater Mekong – 2216 only in the time-frame of 1997 and 2014. Field scientists identify new species at a rate of three per week.
The center of the rich habitat is Myanmar, and according to Michelle Owen, manager of the conservation program at WWF-Myanmar, the country is the perfect example of remarkable richness and biological variety, a treasure chest of biodiversity.
And reading the WWF report shows indeed how amazing and whimsical the creatures dwelling in these habitats are. Some seem to have popped right off the pages of fantasy novels, such as the Ampulex dementor wasp which lives in Thailand.
This creature got its name due to its terrifying resemblance to the soul-sucking dementors from the Harry Potter fantastic world. According to researchers, the wasp produces such strong venom that it turns the prey into a frozen zombie and then proceeds to eat it alive.
There is also the Pipistrelle bat, found in Laos, which easily recognized by the considerable fangs it sports. But the bat is not to be feared, as it needs our help, in fact – dam and quarry construction is posing a serious threat on its natural habitat.
The Pipistrelle bat is not the only one in danger – the “alligator” frog, original from Myanmar, could also be losing its habitat to construction as well. What’s even more discouraging is that scientists have already spotted this exotic newt in the illegal international pet trade, reaching as far as European countries.
If you suffer from insectophobia, you might want to put off that visit in Vietnam, as field researchers have discovered a 54 cm insect called Yentuensis, which is awarded to be the world’s second-longest insect.
Also included in the WWF report were some new unnamed orchid species. They are not at all scary, but incredibly rare, so the scientist who discovered them was very reluctant in bringing them into to the attention of the scientific community. There is always the risk that presenting new flower species will drive up illicit sales.
Image Source: blog.cat.org.uk