Saturday, June 18, 2011

From Madagascar, a multitude of species

New species just keep coming from the world's fourth-largest island, Madagascar, where life is so diverse one biologist calls this land mass "the eighth continent." Since 199, we have 385 plants, 42 invertebrates, 17 fish, 69 amphibians, 61 reptiles and 41 mammals. Yup, that makes 615. And scientists are working through a considerable backlog: herpetologist Chris Raxworthy reported a few years ago he had an estimated 100 frog species in hand that he had not gotten the time to describe. Madagascar has plenty of mysteries left. We don't know if we've found all the lemur species (Hint: no), and reports of a larger form of the island's top carnivore, the fossa, and a pygmy hippopotamus (both thought to be long extinct) have drawn serious scientific investigation.

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