40 new species discovered in Papua New Guinea

From British daily The Guardian:

Lost world of fanged frogs and giant rats discovered in Papua New Guinea

* Robert Booth

*Monday 7 September 2009

A lost world populated by fanged frogs, grunting fish and tiny bear-like creatures has been discovered in a remote volcanic crater on the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea.

A team of scientists from Britain, America, Hawaii and Papua New Guinea found more than 40 previously unidentified species when they climbed into the kilometre-deep crater of Mount Bosavi and explored a pristine jungle habitat teeming with life that has evolved in isolation since the volcano last erupted 200,000 years ago. In a remarkably rich haul from just five weeks of exploration, the biologists discovered 16 frogs which have never before been recorded by science, at least three new fish, a new bat and a giant rat, which may turn out to be the biggest in the world.

The discoveries are being seen as fresh evidence of the richness of the world’s rainforests and the explorers hope their finds will add weight to calls for international action to prevent the demise of similar ecosystems. They said Papua New Guinea’s rainforest is currently being destroyed at the rate of 3.5% a year.

“It was mind-blowing to be there and it is clearly time we pulled our finger out and decided these habitats are worth us saving,” said Dr George McGavin who headed the expedition.

The team of biologists included experts from Oxford University, the London Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution and are believed to be the first scientists to enter the mountainous Bosavi crater. They were joined by members of the BBC Natural History Unit which filmed the expedition for a three-part documentary which starts tomorrow night.

They found the three-kilometre wide crater populated by spectacular birds of paradise and in the absence of big cats and monkeys, which are found in the remote jungles of the Amazon and Sumatra, the main predators are giant monitor lizards while kangaroos have evolved to live in trees. New species include a camouflaged gecko, a fanged frog and a fish called the Henamo grunter, named because it makes grunting noises from its swim bladder.

“These discoveries are really significant,” said Steve Backshall, a climber and naturalist who became so friendly with the never-before seen Bosavi silky cuscus, a marsupial that lives up trees and feeds on fruits and leaves, that it sat on his shoulder.

“The world is getting an awful lot smaller and it is getting very hard to find places that are so far off the beaten track.”

Photos are here.

See also here. And here. And here.

Giant rat satire: here.

A pristine New Guinea wilderness nicknamed “The Lost World” has just yielded multiple new animal species that seem more cartoon fantasy than flesh and blood reality: here.

Victoria crowned pigeon photo: here.

Many tropical mountain birds are shifting their ranges upslope to escape warming temperatures that disrupt their way of life, according to research by a husband-and-wife team from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that retraced scientist Jared Diamond’s landmark New Guinea expedition in the 1960s. The study was published February 18 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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9 thoughts on “40 new species discovered in Papua New Guinea

  1. ‘Matuto’ petroglyphs found in New Guinea

    Many ‘matuto’ petroglyphs were found in a number of villages of the Kaimana District, Provinice of Papua Barat (Indonesia). Matuto petroglyphs usually have a half-man lizard shape and are believed as the ancestor of heroes, Head of Jayapura Archaeology Center, Drs. M.Irfan Mahmud, M.Si said. According to Irfan, a lot of matuto petroglyphs were found at niche surfaces in several archaeological sites. Matuto motif belongs to an anthropomorphic group with religious meaning representing the people’s ancestors living in Kaimana in prehistoric times, he added. He pointed out that besides matuto, the anthropomorphic group also includes a palm-print motif which means a protective power to prevent from evil things, and a human motif.

    Matuto paintings were found in the sites of Omborecena, Memnemba, Memnemnambe and Tumberawasi located in Maimai village. The prehistoric petroglyphs found in the area depict lizards, fishes, tortoises, crocodiles, snakes, birds and sea horses. Among the geometrical motifs found are images of the sun, direction marks, rectangles and circles. The pictures of prehistoric man’s objects include shapes of boats, boomerangs, spears, rock axes, sago hammers and masks.

    Source: Antara News (26 October 2009)



    PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Grand Chief “Carbon Cowboy” Off Soon in New Private Jet to Sell Landowners’ Rainforest Carbon

    By ClimateArk Climate Change Portal http://www.climateark.org/ – and Rainforest Portal http://www.rainforestportal.org/ – projects of Ecological Internet
    December 6, 2009

    Sir Michael Somare — Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Prime Minister — jets soon to Copenhagen pledging to protect the country’s rainforests in exchange for REDD carbon money. Yet back home he has left a long list of shameful and corrupt rainforest/climate policies. As Copenhagen and REDD talks start, Somare pals Rimbunan Hijau of Malaysia continue logging in Ramu, Madang, despite a court order demanding they stop. Corruption, human rights abuses, and ecological devastation have no place in REDD or Papua New Guinea.



    PNG contains the world’s third largest tracts of intact primary rainforests, almost all of which is customary clan owned land. While PNG’s Prime Minister Somare has been at the forefront of international efforts to establish carbon payments for rainforest protection, the rhetoric has made little impact upon the state of this great nation’s rainforests. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Ramu valley of Madang Province, where a massive new illegal logging operation of some 158,000 hectares has been in operation for just over a year.
    Ramu logging area landowners have not provided prior and informed consent – indeed, many say they marked their name on the project papers after being told “This is Grand Chief Somare’s forest and he wants it to be logged by RH.” The list of landowners’ grievances in their petition is long and troubling including failure by Rimbunan Hijau of Malaysia to build roads, health centers and bridges as per the Project Agreement. Local landowners are furious and pursuing multiple measures to stop the logging.
    Ramu and adjacent landowners have been petitioning for months to have Rimbunan Hijau of Malaysia’s timber operations, expansion and trucking on their tribal lands stopped. This past week a Supreme Court lawsuit initially lodged by landowner groups successfully argued that the national government was in error in giving the forest management area to RH, when another company had been selected. Now is the time to ask that Mr. Somare ensure court orders are upheld against illegal logging, and to end the industrial logging of primary rainforests as part of any Copenhagen REDD deal.





    PAPUA NEW GUINEA RAINFOREST: Madang Police Issue Violent Warning to Logging Opposition

    With logging stopped by court order, violence breaks out in Ramu logging area in Papua New Guinea. Two youths in custody for stealing from loggers shot as a warning to the community. With local opposition to Rimbunan Hijau and continued industrial logging growing, foreign logger turns to further bribery and intimidation.

    December 19th, 2009
    By Earth’s Newsdesk and Asples PNG, projects of Ecological Internet http://www.ecoearth.info/newsdesk/
    CONTACT: Dr. Glen Barry, glenbarry@ecologicalinternet.org

    (MADANG, PAPUA NEW GUINEA) – Logging has been stopped for nearly two weeks at the Ramu Block 1 concession held by Rimbunan Hijau (RH) of Malaysia in Madang, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Facing a court order, a plethora of other court proceedings, and rising local landowner discontent, RH has responded by calling on the police to send a warning to logging opposition, and widely making cash bribes to be allowed to resume logging.

    Last week, drunken youth became angry with company employees and ill-advisedly robbed a tool shed. First thing the next morning two youth leaders were caught by officers (who were allegedly visibly intoxicated). While restrained and in police custody, the youths were shot at point blank range in the leg, and let go. The youths are recovering in the hospital, and information is being gathered for legal proceedings.

    “Logging companies bribing police to send a warning to opposition is not ethical or just. Violence has come to Madang Province, as various Asian logging, mining and fishing industries fall over themselves to harvest these resources immediately and incautiously,” notes Ecological Internet’s President, Dr. Glen Barry. “Clearly PNG’s resource allocation processes have become corrupted and Madang’s three big development projects – RH logging, tuna canneries, and Ramu mine – must be stopped and thoroughly investigated.”

    “Asples PNG” – a new PNG campaign NGO advocating for landowner rights and ecological sustainability — calls upon the PNG parliament to suspend these projects, and take such actions as necessary to investigate who is being bribed and corrupted, to allow projects to go ahead on Madang’s clan owned land without prior and informed consent. There is a higher law than the Forest Authority, it is to protect the land that took care of your ancestors (graun i bin lukautim tumbuna bilong yumi).

    A local landowner protest group has organized a petition signed by 70% of local clan leaders asking that Rimbunan Hijau immediately withdraw and have the timber permit terminated. They note the corruption in the tendering process, failed infrastructure promises, human rights violations and violence against landowners, and shocking rates of logging and environmental damage. Landowners also seek to lodge the legal papers required to officially withdraw from the Forest Management Area agreement, but are short of finance and seeking assistance to do so.

    Madang Province is a remote coastal paradise containing rich, large and intact rainforests with low population densities. This lowland, relatively accessible source of ancient timbers is much sought after by the timber industry. Madang is also being inundated with huge tuna cannery and mining operations. Local indigenous peoples are extremely discouraged that their resources are being given out by the central government without their prior and informed consent. Expect further protest until this is remedied.



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