The second smallest vertebrate in the world discovered

52 new animal and plant species on Borneo

Mini fish Paedocyst progenetica WWF / Heok Hui Tan
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On the island of Borneo, researchers have discovered again unknown animal and plant species. Including the second-smallest vertebrate in the world, a less than one-centimeter long fish from the carp-like family.

Researchers continue to provide new evidence for the stunning and largely unknown biodiversity of the Southeast Asian rainforest island of Borneo on their voyages of discovery. A new WWF study now documents the discovery of 52 new animal and plant species for the period from July 2005 to September 2006 alone. Among them is also a tiny fish, which is found in the extremely acidic peat bog waters of the island: Scientists have given the representative of the family of carp fish the name Paedocypris micromegethes. At just under a centimeter in length, it is considered the second-smallest vertebrate in the world after the mini-fish Paedocypris progenetica, which is native to the neighboring island of Sumatra.

Sticky belly and green luminescent eyes

Scientists discovered in the mentioned period a total of 30 fish species, two tree frog species, 16 ginger species, three new tree species and another species of the arrowroot family. "New discoveries such as the second smallest carp in the world show that Borneo always has new surprises in store alongside the famous orangutans, rhinos and elephants, " says WWF species protection expert Stefan Ziegler.

One of the most amazing finds, according to the WWF expert, is a catfish with protruding teeth and a sticky belly that allows it to adhere to rocks in rapids. The researchers also identified six Siamese fighting fish, one of which carries a dazzling blue-green mark. A newly discovered tree frog will attract attention with its impressively bright green eyes. With the new ginger species, the number of known species from the genus Etlingera has more than doubled.

Unknown diversity threatens

In view of the new finds, the WWF again points out that the still largely unexplored jungle paradise is threatened: every 20 seconds disappears on Borneo a rainforest area the size of a football field. Half of the original forests have already been destroyed by fires, plantations and legal and criminal timber trade. display

In order to preserve the biodiversity on Borneo, the WWF inter alia for a 220, 000 square kilometer network of protected areas - that is equivalent to three times the area of ​​Bavaria. This "heart of Borneo", in which some of the new species were found, would protect mainly the remote mountain forests of the island from further depletion. The states of Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia, which share the island, have already declared their agreement in principle with the protection project, but have not officially declared the protection status.

(WWF, 20.12.2006 - NPO)