Newly Discovered

rynner2

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Now here's a surprise!
Giraffe genetic secret: Four species of tallest mammal identified
By Victoria Gill Science reporter, BBC News

It is a famous, gentle giant of the African savannah, but the giraffe's genetics have just revealed that there is not one species, but four.
Giraffes have previously been recognised to be a single species divided into several sub-species.

But this latest study of their DNA suggests that four groups of giraffes have not cross-bred and exchanged genetic material for millions of years.
This is a clear indication that they have evolved into distinct species.
The study published in the journal Current Biology has rewritten the biology of Earth's tallest mammal.


The scientists say their findings could inform the conservation efforts for all four species of giraffe.
Conservation was the catalyst for this genetic research; the Giraffe Conservation Foundation asked the team to carry out genetic analysis of giraffes in Namibia.

The foundation wanted to understand the genetic differences between different giraffe populations, to see how the animals might be affected if different subspecies were mixed together when animals were moved into protected areas.

What we found then, says Axel Janke, a geneticist at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, who led the research, "was that the sub-species were genetically very different and separate.
"I'd never seen that in a population study [of a species] before."

This initial study examined what is known as mitochondrial DNA - a packet of DNA within every cell's "engine". This is useful for population genetics - it can be easily isolated and contains lots of known variants that can track relatedness.
But mitochondrial DNA is not part of the code that builds an animal, so Dr Janke decided to examine and compare parts of that code - the nuclear DNA.
"It turned out, he told BBC News, that, for example, "the whole clade of northern giraffes was very different from reticulated giraffes."

"Our findings indicated four distinct species."
Those four species include:
  • southern giraffe (Giraffa giraffa),
  • Masai giraffe (G. tippelskirchi),
  • reticulated giraffe (G. reticulata)
  • northern giraffe (G. camelopardalis), which includes the Nubian giraffe (G. c. camelopardalis) as a distinct but related subspecies.
While giraffes had always been thought to be of one species, Dr Janke likened the difference between one species and another - in terms of their genetic code - to that of a Polar bear compared to a brown bear.

This suggests that each species is adapted for a specific environment or diet - a question that is the subject of his team's next research project.

Matthew Cobb, professor of zoology at the University of Manchester explained that the "four groups of giraffes had "been separated for 1-2 million years, with no evidence of genes being exchanged between them".
"This is an important finding that will enable conservation biologists to target their efforts and, perhaps, to come up with new conservation approaches in captivity or in the wild, based on the genetic similarities and differences between these groups," Professor Cobb told BBC News.
Dr Janke commented: "We've clearly completely forgotten what a giraffe is." :p

He added that conservation programmes focused on specific species - understanding an animal's life, behaviour and habitat, to inform how it can be protected in the wild.
In the last 15 years, the population of giraffes has declined by 40% - there are now an estimated 90,000 individuals in the wild. But, as a single species, they are classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as of Least Concern.

Now, it is clear that each of these four newly classified species could be faring very differently.
It's important to raise awareness for conservation, said Dr Janke, "to protect his beautiful animal of which we know so little."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-37311716
 

rynner2

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Didn't they just do this recently with elephants? Identified separate sub-species?
With the giraffes, they found that what were previously thought to be sub-species are in fact totally separate species.

Can you provide any info on the current heffalump situation?
 
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New spider species resembles Harry Potter 'Sorting Hat'

A spider bearing an "uncanny" resemblance to the sorting hat in the Harry Potter series has been discovered by scientists in India.
The Eriovixia gryffindori, measuring just 7mm in length, closely resembles the magical artefact in the series.

The spider takes its name from Godric Gryffindor, the fictional owner of the hat.
It was discovered in the mountainous Western Ghats region of south-western India.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-38325099
 
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New Poisonous Frog Species Discovered in Peru

A peculiar croak heard within the Amazon rain forest leads to the naming of a new species of frog.

By Carrie Arnold
PUBLISHED JANUARY 18, 2017

Deep in the Peruvian Amazon, in a region known as the Manú Biosphere Reserve, Shirley Jennifer Serrano Rojas crouched near a stream. She listened while her audio recorder tracked the noise of the rain forest around her. Then she heard something: an unfamiliar frog’s croak, not far off. But as soon as she snapped her head to locate the source of the sound, it disappeared.

It was the summer of 2013, and Serrano Rojas—a senior field scientist with the Crees Foundation—had been surveying amphibians in this part of Peru. She had heard all kinds of calls, but she didn’t recognize this one.

Back at camp later that day, her advisor, Andrew Whitworth, listened to the recording and confirmed Serrano Rojas’ suspicions: She had likely come across a new species.

Further trips to the same stream finally netted the mysterious singer: a black poison frog with two orange stripes down its body. Further years of study—including genetic and evolutionary analysis—confirmed that Ameerega shihuemoy was indeed new to science.

The description of the frog was published on January 16 in the journal Zootaxa. ...

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/poison-dart-frog-species-discovery-peru-amazon/


 

Analogue Boy

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These tiny beetles have evolved to ride ants like horses
Newly discovered beetle species lives secretly among the army ants of Costa Rica.

Researchers Christoph von Beeren and Alexey K. Tishechkin just identified a tiny beetle they've named Nymphister kronaueri that keeps up with the army ants' endless march in an unusual way. N. kronaueri clamps onto an army ant's back with its mandibles, as if it were a soldier going into battle on the back of the most magnificent steed in the world. Von Beeren and Tishechkin describe the strange life of N. kronaueri in a paper for BMC Zoology, and they explain how these animals evolved to live among creatures who would normally gorge themselves upon their beetle guts.

Insects and other creatures who live among ants are called myrmecophiles, which literally means ant lovers. Myrmecophiles stand to gain a lot from this strange relationship. Certainly they can feed off the colony's leftovers in the wake of a raid, but there's more to the relationship than that. Ants create a pleasant environment, much like a human city that attracts wild animals. The researchers write:

Life in and around ant colonies is expected to be beneficial for arthropod guests, especially those that have managed to get along well with ants. Among the latter are highly integrated species that inhabit ant nests, in which they are protected from their own predators, live in a stable microclimate, and have access to rich food sources.

Because ant colonies are such nice places to live, myrmecophiles evolved early. Some species have been following ants around for 50 million years.



Enlarge / Above, you can see N. kronaueri attached to the ant's back and using its mandibles to grip between the second and third segments of the ant's body. Below, a close-up of the beetle's mandibles clamped on.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/02/these-beetles-ride-like-cowboys-on-the-backs-of-army-ants/
 
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New species of parasitic wasp discovered in the eggs of leaf-rolling weevils in Africa
Date:
February 27, 2017
Source:
Pensoft Publishers
Summary:
A new species of parasitic wasp has been obtained from the eggs of weevils associated with bushwillows in northeastern Gabon. Given the tiny insect is the first record of its genus for West-Central Africa, the researchers decided to assign the wasp a name to celebrate its origin.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170227100737.htm
 
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Could Cape York Peninsula be the spider capital of Australia?
11 April 2017

Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula could claim to be the spider capital of Australia with over 50 new species discovered. Spiders the size of dinner plates were found along with tiny arachnids no bigger than a thumbnail.

Researchers from the Queensland Museum including Dr Robert Raven, Dr Barbara Baehr and Robert Whyte, along with Macquarie University’s Jim McLean, were part of a team that discovered the spiders during the latest Bush Blitz discovery project in Quinkan Country during a two-week expedition.

Bush Blitz is a species discovery partnership program between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities and Earthwatch. Dr Raven and Dr Baehr said a 23-strong team of scientists worked with indigenous rangers and traditional owners to collect everything from scuba diving tarantulas and ant mimicking spiders to dancing peacock spiders. “This was one of the largest number of species Bush Blitz has ever discovered during one expedition,” they said. “Far north Queensland can boast an extraordinary variety of spiders.”

Bush Blitz manager Jo Harding said the new species discoveries weren’t possible without the knowledge and assistance of the indigenous rangers and traditional owners who know Quinkan Country. ...

http://bushblitz.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/media-media-release-Quinkan-PAD.pdf
 
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New species discovered behind a pub – then saved from extinction
In 2007, conservationists discovered a new species inhabiting a beach just behind a pub in Granity, New Zealand. But could they save it before erosion and rising waters wiped it off the face of the planet?

Thursday 1 June 2017 14.47 BSTLast modified on Thursday 1 June 2017 15.24 BST

Who says village life has to be boring? Granity, New Zealand may be home to less than 300 people, but this lovely seaside village on the western coast of South Island was also – until last year – home to a species found no-where else on Earth. And today, the town has quite the tale to tell.

In 2007 reptile expert Tony Jewell noticed there was something very different about the little lizards that skittered beneath the cobble stones on the beach behind Miners on Sea pub and hotel in Granity. Built in 1892, the pub has a long history of serving nearby mining communities.

Jewell was so convinced of the reptile’s distinctness that he included them as a separate species in his 2008 edition of A Photographic Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand. Although similar to the more common speckled skink, these Miners-on-Sea skinks were smaller and sported bigger eyes.

“Perhaps adaptations to wriggling through the gloomy spaces beneath the ‘cobble’,” Richard Gibson, with the Auckland Zoo, explained.

Conservationists began referring to this population as ‘cobble skinks,’ since they only inhabited the cobble stones that lined the beach near Granity.

But things quickly became dire for the newly discovered skinks. Eight years after Jewell discovered the population, two surveys, one in 2015 and 2016, counted only around 30 animals left. ...

https://www.theguardian.com/environ...vered-behind-a-pub-then-saved-from-extinction
 

skinny

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This is awesome. :)

______________________________________________________________________________________

Baby bird discovered in 99-million-year-old amber with feathers, colour intact

Updated 15 minutes ago - source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-09/baby-bird-discovered-in-99-million-year-old-amber/8603798



Scientists in Myanmar have discovered what they describe as the "most complete" fossil of a baby bird ever recovered from the Cretaceous period, trapped in 99-million-year-old amber.

The hatchling, complete with feathers, claws, skin and soft tissue around the eyelid and external opening of the ear, is believed to be a species from a group of birds called enantiornitheans that went extinct about 65 million years ago.

Almost all enantiornitheans had teeth, and each finger within the wing contained a claw.

In a paper published in Gondwana Research the scientists said the find offered new insight into "the most species-rich clade of pre-modern birds" to have ever existed.

"The new amber specimen yields the most complete view of hatchling plumage and integument yet to be recovered from the Cretaceous," the paper said.

Based on the presence of "flight feathers" ranging in colour from white to brown and dark grey, the bird is thought to have been capable of flight at or very soon after birth, but became trapped in amber at just a few days old.

"The plumage preserves an unusual combination of [developed] and [undeveloped] features unlike any living hatchling bird," the paper said.

Researchers believed the early ability to fly would have helped the birds flee predators, but the high number of young enantiornitheans in the fossil record suggested their independence came at a cost.



The Hukawng Valley in northern Myanmar where the specimen was found is known for its rich amber deposits and is believed to contain the largest variety of animal and plant fossils from the Cretaceous period, 145.5 to 65.5 million years ago.

In 2016, a feathered dinosaur tail was discovered in a piece of amber that had been purchased in 2014 from a market in Myanmar, where it was being sold as jewellery.

"[I thought we had] just a pair of feet and some feathers before it underwent CT imaging. It was a big, big, big surprise after that," research team co-leader Lida Xing said of that discovery.

Dr Xing is one of five scientists credited with discovering the dinosaur tail in 2016, involved with the latest discovery of the enantiornithean fossil.
 

Ermintruder

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Scientists in Myanmar have discovered what they describe as the "most complete" fossil of a baby bird ever recovered
This is not a fossil. Surely what has been captured in amber is the actual body/feathers/skeleton of a prehistoric bird?

Someone please explain to me how and when the conventional definition of the word 'fossil' has gone from this (from back when I was a student).....

"Mineralisation...the original remains of the organism completely dissolve or are otherwise destroyed. The remaining organism-shaped hole in the rock is called an external mold. If this hole is later filled with other minerals, it is a cast. An endocast or internal mold is formed when sediments or minerals fill the internal cavity of an organism, such as the inside of a bivalve or snail or the hollow of a skull".

....
and instead become a strange catch-all definition, now even including supposed analysable DNA, collagen compounds and presumably sometimes also bones?

Come on, this has become a huge
rescope for what was a narrow scientific term- why? In fact, we could say, science had followed the metaphor....
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil
 

GNC

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You have a point, Erm, those insects trapped in amber were never described as fossils.
 

skinny

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Second that. Almost all reporting sources for this find are calling it a fossil, rather than a preserved specimen. Others refer to it, again incorrectly, as mummified.
 
Last edited:

Ermintruder

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Thank you, that is exactly my point.

For nearly half-a-century of my (our?) collective experience, 'fossils' were fortuitous mineralised castings of long-dead archaeopteryx, coelacanth, ammonites and bivalves, found by early amateur investigators such as Mary Anning. Stone castings of missing / replaced ancient organisms. End of.

So when did the word become expanded? I'm being 100% serious about this, this is a change in definition and scope, surely?
 

EnolaGaia

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The term has not been expanded. The bird-in-amber is indeed a fossil, but not a fossil of the bird ...

The amber itself is fossil (mineralized) tree resin. The (non-fossilized) bird remains are an inclusion within the fossil tree resin, just as a granitic pebble may be an inclusion within (e.g.) a sedimentary rock.
 
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More pics & vid at link.

Bizarre new deep-sea creatures discovered off Australian coast


This spiny crab was snapped 4kms down
Rob Zugaro

By Alice Klein

Faceless fish, giant sea spiders and blobby sea pigs. These are just some of the weird creatures that have been uncovered during the first-ever deep-sea expedition along the east coast of Australia.

The discoveries were made by an international team of scientists aboard the research ship Investigator, which is owned by Australia’s Marine National Facility. The ship set sail from Launceston, Tasmania on May 15 and reached its final destination in Brisbane, Queensland today.

During the one-month voyage, the ship tracked up the eastern edge of the Australian continental plate, where the ocean suddenly drops to 4-kilometres-deep. Fishing nets and trawling sleds were used to collect creatures at the bottom of this abyss.

More than one third of the invertebrates and some of the fishes found during the expedition are completely new to science. ...

https://www.newscientist.com/articl...hobox&utm_source=Twitter#link_time=1497668766
 

Kingsize Wombat

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Scientist On Thailand Honeymoon Discovers Nightmarish New Species Of Centipede

A new species of centipede was discovered in Southeast Asia which can grow up to 9 inches and hunts both on land and underwater.

According to a report published this week in ZooKeys, researchers in Southeast Asia have now discovered the world’s first known amphibious centipede.

Scolopendra cataracta — which sports a dark, greenish-black color and can measure up to eight inches in length — can be found both crawling on land and swimming in water throughout Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.

According to National Geographic, entomologist George Beccaloni of the Natural History Museum in London first discovered the centipede when he was on his honeymoon in Thailand. He was looking under rocks near a waterfall and was able to capture a specimen of this large creature.

Although this bite can’t kill a human or cause lasting damage, it will result in a painful bite from the creature’s “fang,” and may lead to a burning sensation that can persist for days.


http://all-that-is-interesting.com/amphibious-centipede
 
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The barred grass snake comes into its own as a newly classified species.

New species of grass snake identified in England
Recognition of barred grass snake as distinct species different to common cousin increases native total to four

A barred grass snake. Photograph: Wolfgang Bohme/Senckenberg Resea/PAView more sharing options
Monday 7 August 2017 20.17 BSTLast modified on Monday 7 August 2017 23.22 BST

England is home to four kinds of wild snake, not three as was previously believed, according to scientists.

The barred grass snake, Natrix helvetica, is now recognised as a species in its own right distinct from the common or eastern grass snake (Natrix natrix).
Both snakes can be found in lowland areas of southern England. Unlike the adder (Vipera berus), neither creature is venomous. The only other British snake, the smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), is also non-venomous and extremely rare.

Grass snakes, which grow to more than one metre (3ft) in length, live near water, mainly feeding on amphibians such as frogs, toads and newts. ...

https://www.theguardian.com/environ...-snake-discovered-in-england?CMP=share_btn_tw
 
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A new sweet flower of Scotland.

Scientists have discovered a brand new flower in Shetland.

It is a beauty.

A delicate golden bell of a flower, its throat flecked with tiny, blood-red spots - colours echoing the Lion Rampant.

It is a discreet beauty, though. Each flower is only slightly larger than a 50p piece.

Discreet and unique, because this is a new flower of Scotland. Or, more precisely, Shetland.


Image captionEach flower is slightly larger than a 50p piece
The flower was discovered by a team from Stirling's department of biological and environmental sciences led by post-doctoral researcher Dr Violeta Simon-Porcar, working with associate professor Dr Mario Vallejo-Marin at Stirling and Dr James Higgins at Leicester University. ...

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-40935666?utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=
 

Kingsize Wombat

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New Purple Pig-Nose Frog Found in Remote Mountains

The striking species lives underground and comes out to mate only when it rains.

Scientists have discovered a new and unusual species of frog in the Western Ghats mountain range in India. The frog has shiny, purple skin, a light blue ring around its eyes, and a pointy pig-nose.

The scientists have called the new species Bhupathy's purple frog (Nasikabatrachus bhupathi), in honor of their colleague, Dr. Subramaniam Bhupathy, a respected herpetologist who lost his life in the Western Ghats in 2014.

While the new amphibians may appear odd, each quirk of the purple frog’s anatomy is the result of countless years of evolution. Small eyes, a long snout, and short limbs equipped with hardened ‘spades’—each enables the frog to spend almost its entire life below ground.


http://all-that-is-interesting.com/bhupathy-purple-frog




 
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This astonishing creature is distinct with its carapace and chelipeds covered in pointy protrusions. Interestingly, these change with age, becoming shorter, blunter and mushroom-shaped to resemble wart-like outgrowths and granules. Regardless of their sex, as the crabs grow larger, their carapaces also get proportionately rounder and wider.

The curious protuberances on the bodies reminded the research team of Dr. Peter Ng, National University of Singapore, and Dr. Ming-Shiou Jeng, Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, of stars. Hence, the crab was given the name Pariphiculus stellatus, where stellatus translates as 'starry' from Latin.

The colouration of P. stellatus varies among specimens. While predominantly orange with white patches, their shade could be either dull, pale or intense. The white spots might cover some of the protrusions or extend over most of the body. The underside of the body is dirty white to light brown.

Another rare crab species, Acanthodromia margarita, has been reported for the first time from Taiwan in the same study, having previously been known from the Andaman Sea in the eastern Indian Ocean, Japan and the Philippines. The collected female specimen is one of the largest representatives of the species known so far.

"With their bright orange to pink bodies, these hedgehog-like crabs are truly striking in life!" says Dr. Peter Ng.



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-08-species-crab-unusual-outgrowths-written.html#jCp
 
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Hidden in plain sight - that's how researchers describe their discovery of a new genus of large forest tree commonly found, yet previously scientifically unknown, in the tropical Andes.

Researchers from the Smithsonian and Wake Forest University detailed their findings in a study just released in the journal PhytoKeys.

Named Incadendron esseri (literally "Esser's tree of the Inca"), the tree is a new genus and species commonly found along an ancient Inca path in Peru, the Trocha Unión. Its association with the land of the Inca empire inspired its scientific name.

So how could a canopy tree stretching up to 100 feet tall and spanning nearly two feet in diameter go undetected until now?

"Incadendron tells us a lot about how little we understand life on our planet. Here is a tree that ranges from southern Peru to Ecuador, that is abundant on the landscape, and yet it was unknown. Finding this tree isn't like finding another species of oak or another species of hickory—it's like finding oak or hickory in the first place," said Miles Silman, the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Presidential Chair in Conservation Biology at Wake Forest.

"This tree perplexed researchers for several years before being named as new. It just goes to show that so much biodiversity is unknown and that obvious new species are awaiting discovery everywhere - in remote ecological plots, as well as in our own backyards," said Kenneth Wurdack, a botanist with the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. ...

https://phys.org/news/2017-09-hidden-inca-treasure-remarkable-tree.html
 

hunck

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New Species of Orangutan identified

And are immediately put on the endangered list due to estimated population of less than 800.

Found living in the forests of North Sumatra in Indonesia, the Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) was originally considered to be part of the Sumatran orangutan population, but the discovery of a separate species means it is considered the most endangered of all great ape species.

Following the discovery of the skeletal material, believed to have come from a Tapanuli orangutan killed in a human-animal conflict in 2013, an international team of researchers set out to understand more about the distant ape relative of humans.

Anton Nurcahyo, a PhD student from the Australian National University, said: "We were completely surprised to find that the skull is quite different in some characteristics from orangutan skulls we had seen before."

He added: "It has a smaller skull, but larger canine teeth than other orangutan species."

Orangutans were considered to be one species until 1996, belonging to the genus - a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of organisms - Pongo.

Designation of Bornean and Sumatran orangutans as two separate species, P. pygmaeus and P. abelii, occurred in 2001, the researchers said.

Analysis suggested the Batang Toru population may have been isolated from other Sumatran populations for at least 10-20,000 years.

Detailed Current Biology article
 
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A Fecund Fortean Farrago.

Mekong region: Lizard and turtle among 100 new species found

More than 100 new species have been discovered in the ecologically diverse region of the Mekong river which stretches from the Tibetan plateau to the South China Sea, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Image copyrightPA
Odorrana Mutschmanni, a coloured frog, was found in a forest in north-eastern Vietnam - among 115 new species discovered by scientists in the Mekong region in 2016. ...

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-42410194?ocid=socialflow_twitter
 

Jim

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A Fecund Fortean Farrago.

Mekong region: Lizard and turtle among 100 new species found

More than 100 new species have been discovered in the ecologically diverse region of the Mekong river which stretches from the Tibetan plateau to the South China Sea, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Image copyrightPA
Odorrana Mutschmanni, a coloured frog, was found in a forest in north-eastern Vietnam - among 115 new species discovered by scientists in the Mekong region in 2016. ...

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-42410194?ocid=socialflow_twitter
It's surprising how many new animals come out of that region, considering the fact that it's somewhat highly populated (unlike portions of the amazon, Congo, New Guinea, etc.). The 1st live specimen of the saola (a bovine) wasn't discovered until this century.
 
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