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April 10, 2009

Jumping spider and chirping frog among new species found in Papua-New Guinea

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Filed under : General Green
A chirping frog, jumping spiders and a striped gecko were among more than 50 new animal species scientists have discovered in a remote, mountainous region of Papua New Guinea.

Of the animals discovered, 50 spider species, three frogs and a gecko appear to have never been described in scientific literature before, said Conservation International. The Washington DC-based group spent the past several months analysing more than 600 animal species the group found during its expedition to the South Pacific island nation in July and August.

The new frogs include a tiny brown animal with a sharp chirp, a bug-eyed bright green tree frog and another frog with a loud ringing call.

One of the jumping spiders is shiny and pale green, while another is furry and brown.

“If you’re finding things that are that big and that spectacular that are new, that’s really an indication that there’s a lot out there that we don’t know about,” said Steve Richards, the leader of the expedition. “It never ceases to amaze me, the spectacular things that are turning up from that island.”

The findings are significant, particularly the discovery of the new frog species, said Craig Franklin, a zoology professor at The University of Queensland in Australia who studies frogs.

“They’re often regarded as a great bioindicator of environmental health,” said Mr Franklin, who was not involved in the expedition. “Often we see declines in frogs as a direct pointer to an affected environment.”

Researchers from Conservation International explored the region with scientists from the University of British Columbia in Canada and Montclair State University in New Jersey, as well as local scientists from Papua New Guinea.

The area the researchers explored provides a critical source of clean drinking water to tens of thousands of people living in surrounding communities and local clans rely on the region for hunting.

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