And found: 24 new wild species

by : Subhash

A with fluorescent purple markings and 12 kinds of dung beetles are among two dozen new species discovered in the remote plateaus of eastern Suriname, scientists said.

The expedition was sponsored by two mining companies hoping to excavate the area for bauxite, the raw material used to make aluminum, and it was unknown how the findings would affect their plans.

Scientists discovered the species during a 2005 expedition led by the US-based nonprofit Conservation International in and swamps about 130 km southeast of Paramaribo, the capital of the South American country, organisation spokesman Tom Cohen said.

Among the species found were the atelopus frog, which has distinctive purple markings; six types of fish; 12 dung beetles, and one ant species, he said. The scientists called for better conservation management in the unprotected, stateowned areas, where hunting and small-scale illegal mining is common.

The study was financed by Suriname Aluminum Company LLC and BHP Bniton Maatschappij Suriname. Suriname Aluminum, which has a government concession to explore gold in the area, will include the data in its environmental assessment study, said Haydi Berrenstein, a Conservation International ofIicial in Suriname, which borders Brazil, Guyana and French Guiana. About 80 per cent of Suriname is covered with dense rainforest.

Thousands of Brazilians and Surinamese are believed to work in illegal mining, creating mercury pollution that has threatened the health of Amerindians and Maroons in Suriname's interior.

This is surprising because no previous theories of how the frogs arrived had predicted a single origin for Caribbean terrestrial frogs and because groups of close relatives rarely dominate the fauna of an entire continent or major geographic region," said biology Professor Blair Hedges, who directed the research.

The field work for the study required nearly three decades and some species included in the study are now believed extinct because of habitat degradation and possibly other causes, such as climate change.

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