Share

New Species Found: 60 Creatures Discovered in Suriname Forest

David McFadden
Published: October 7, 2013

Trond Larsen/Conservation International

The tiny lilliputian beetle (Canthidium cf. minimum) probably represents a new species to science.

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Braving perilous river rapids in Suriname's rainforest, international scientists found six frogs and 11 fish that are among 60 creatures that may be new species, a tropical ecologist with a U.S.-based conservation group said Thursday.

Trond Larsen, with the nonprofit research and advocacy organization Conservation International, said in a phone interview that the team catalogued creatures and studied freshwater resources during a three-week expedition in pristine forest of southeast Suriname near the border with Brazil.

The upper Palumeu River watershed is among the world's most remote and unexplored rainforests, the Arlington, Virginia-based group said. It has worked for years in Suriname, a sparsely populated country of 63,000 square miles (162, 265 square kilometers) on the north shoulder of South America.

The creatures that could be new to science include a brown tree frog dubbed the "cocoa frog" and a type of poison dart frog, which secretes powerful toxins employed by local people for hunting.

"Given the rate at which so many populations of frogs are declining and disappearing around the world, it's pretty exciting to be discovering new species," Larsen said.

Scientists also catalogued a potentially new type of colorful tetra fish, an unusually pigmented catfish and nine other types of fish after dragging nets through waterways. A 2.3 millimeter (less than an inch) reddish dung beetle that may be the second smallest one in South America was among apparently previously unknown kinds of insects found.

(MORE: Eleven More New Species Discovered)

The research team collected data on 1,378 species of plants, birds, mammals, insects, fish and amphibians. The scientists were supported by 30 indigenous men who helped negotiate supply-laden boats through raging rivers and guided them through the forests.

Suriname, a Dutch colony until the 1970s, has made great efforts to protect its rainforests. In 1998, the government created the roughly 4 million-acre (1.6 million-hectare) Central Suriname Nature Reserve, setting aside some 10 percent of the country.

But thousands of illegal miners, many of them Brazilian, have also long worked throughout the interior, contaminating rivers in some areas with mercury used to separate gold from ore.

Researchers found high quality water conditions in the region they studied, but some of their samples had mercury above safe levels for drinking even though there was apparently no upstream mining. Larsen said he believes the mercury is blowing in from mining and industrial activities in neighboring nations.

MORE: Species Closest to Extinction

Nomascus hainanus (Jessica Bryant)


Featured Blogs

2014 Holiday Shopping Guide for the Weather and Climate Change Enthusiast

By Dr. Jeff Masters
November 28, 2014

Every serious weather enthusiast deserves a Personal Weather Station (PWS)! Recommended for this year: The Netatmo Weather Monitor ($179, or enter the promo code WUNDERGROUND to get the station for $149), which monitors your living environment and wirelessly transmits all your data to your Smartphone.

October 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By Christopher C. Burt
November 22, 2014

October was globally the warmest such on record according to NOAA (see Jeff Master’s blog for more about this). Extreme heat waves affected southern South America and California with exceptional warmth in Europe and Australia as well. Intense rainfalls plagued southern France and Italy. Deadly flooding and mudslides occurred in Sri Lanka. A blizzard in Nepal killed at least 43 trekkers and their guides. Hurricane Gonzalo was the first CAT 4 tropical storm in three years to form in the Atlantic Basin and struck Bermuda. Typhoon Vongfong was the Earth’s most powerful storm of the year.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.