Saturday, October 26, 2013

Flood of new species from the Amazon

I can't say it often enough: We have not found all the new species on Earth, not even the "major" ones like primates.  The Amazon has amazed us with many new discoveries, and a new report from the WWF collects 441 of these from 2010 through the present.    The adorable caqueta titi monkey (Callicebus caquetensis), purrs like a kitten when young. The monkey was the only mammal mentioned in this particular report, which is a bit odd since Dr. Marc van Roosmalen has found several more recent mammals.  There are, to go with however many mammals, 18 birds (authorities once thought the birds had almost all been discovered), 84 fish, 58 amphibians, and 22 reptiles, with the rest being plants.  The title of "weirdest new discovery" might go to the vegetarian piranha, which  can weigh up to 4 kilograms.
It's easy to sit here in middle-class North American comfort and say, "They need to protect the habitat." "They" do need to protect it, but "we need to help them, with money, with know-how, and with monitoring the activities of corporations based up here.  It is said the forests are "lungs" of planet Earth.  We're down to about half a lung.  However you take action, whether it's sending money or writing Congress or being part of a conservation, organization, discoveries like these remind us of the urgent need to do what we can.

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