Monday, December 22, 2008

New species -and new forest - found

A British scientist using Google Earth to study conservation projects was surprised to see a forest that was new to him. Indeed, no scientist, apparently, had ever been aware of the 7,000-hectare patch of green on a spot known as Mount Mabu. While the forest was known to local people, word if it had never reached the ears of science.
According to this article, "In just three weeks, scientists led by a team from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew found hundreds of different plant species, birds, butterflies, monkeys and a new species of giant snake."
(Hmm.... A giant snake? The article goes on to say this is a new species of Gaboon viper, a nastily poisonous but not gigantic reptile. )
Jonathan Timberlake, who led the Kew expedition, believes this is not the only such preserve waiting for someone to notice it.
"We cannot say we have discovered all the biodiversity areas in the world, there are still ones to discover and it helps to find new species to make people realise what is out there," he said.
COMMENT: A new species is one thing, but a new forest? It's a good reminder of how much we still have to learn about this planet, and of how helpful the new tools of the digital age can be.

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