Filed under: Environment, News of the Weird, Science/Technology | Tags: Discovering New Species, The Biodiversity of Rain Forests, The Okapi is Not Extinct
The number of species that have become extinct has been vastly overestimated. A study has found that a third of all mammal species that have been declared extinct in the past few centuries have turned up alive and well. Some of the shyer creatures have managed to hide from sight for more than 80 years only to reappear within four years of being officially named extinct in the wild.
The okapi, or forest giraffe, was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1901, but had not been seen since 1959. They are shy animals of the giraffe family. Researchers found tracks five years ago. Google has plenty of pictures, but mostly of zoo animals. Their strange markings act as camouflage in dappled woodland light. Adults seem to be good sized animals with long giraffe tongues and adult males have horns like a giraffe.
Dr. Diana Fisher of the University of Queensland, Australia, compiled a list of all mammals declared extinct since the 16th century or which were formally declared missing in scientific papers. “We identified 187 mammal species that have been missing since 1500,” she wrote in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. “In the complete data–set, 67 species that were supposedly missing have been rediscovered.”
A survey of species in the Greater Mekong region of Thailand, has found 145 new species not before known. Dracula fish, a bald songbird and a 23 foot tall carnivorous plant (Little Shop of Horrors?) are among the unusual species. There is a frog that sounds like a cricket. The “Dracula minnow” is largely translucent, and has fangs at the front of each jaw — but at only 1.7 centimeters, not terminally scary.
In Papua, New Guinea, a survey of remote New Britain Island and the Southern Highlands ranges accessible only by a combination of small plane, dinghy, helicopter and foot found an exciting array of new mammals, amphibians, insects and plants. They found 200 new species, and 100 new species in the spider and insect orders alone.
These jungles are wild rainforest, with huge biodiversity, and much yet to be discovered. We don’t know as much as we think we do. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of.