Photos: New species from New Guinea

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  1. Beauty and the bug

    Conservationists found 200 new species of plants and animals during just two months of exploring the Nakanai and Muller mountains of Papua New Guinea in 2009. The expedition was coordinated by Conservation International in partnership with Papua New Guinea's Institute for Biological Research and A Rocha International. This is one of the new species, a pink-eyed katydid discovered in the Muller Range. (Piotr Naskrecki / Courtesy of Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Long-tailed mouse

    This long-tailed mouse, captured in Papua New Guinea's Nakanai Mountains, represents a new genus and species that has yet to be described. The characteristics of its feet and teeth suggest that it might be a burrower, living most of its life at or near the forest floor. (Stephen Richards / Courtesy of Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Yellow-spotted frog

    Among the 20 new frogs discovered during the 2009 Papua New Guinea expedition is this striking, yellow-spotted species of the genus Platymantis, found only at the highest elevations surveyed in the Nakanai Mountains, Males called from small bushes in bamboo thickets so dense that it took many hours to cut a path just a few yards off the main trail to track them down. (Stephen Richards / Courtesy of Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Bejeweled katydid

    This new species in the genus Mossula, found in Papua New Guinea's Muller Range, has a dark emerald coloration that Conservation International's Piotr Naskrecki had never seen before in katydids. (Piotr Naskrecki / Courtesy of Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Just hangin' around

    This tube-nosed fruit bat represents a previously observed species in the genus Nyctimene that has not yet been given a scientific name. Its range is likely limited to hill forests on New Guinea. Fruit bats are important seed dispersers in tropical forests. (Piotr Naskrecki / Courtesy of Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. High-altitude ant

    This new species of ant (genus Strumigenys) was found at the highest altitude ever recorded for an ant in New Guinea - nearly 9,500 feet in the Muller Range. This ant species must have the ability to withstand both cold and wet conditions in the rainy season, as well as extremely hot and dry conditions in the dry season. (Andrea Lucky / Courtesy of Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Golden discovery

    This new species of frog (genus Litoria) has extremely variable color patterns and distinct yellow spots in the groin. The colorful frogs were surprisingly difficult to spot in the lush foliage along small rainforest streams in the Muller Range. Males were most frequently identified after they uttered a very soft ticking sound to attract females in the vicinity. (Stephen Richards / Courtesy of Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Can you spot the frog?

    Conservation International's Stephen Richards traced the soft scratching call of this tiny, long nosed frog into a steep muddy gully in New Guinea's remote Muller Range. This representative of a new frog species (genlus Choerophryne) is small enough to sit comfortably on a thumbnail - or hide itself from view under a tangle of roots. (Piotr Naskrecki / Courtesy of Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Hard-to-get ant

    Scientists found only two specimens of this super spiny ant species, which represents an entirely new genus of ants.The workers were found in the canopy of a fallen tree at mid-elevation. Conservation International entomologist Andrea Lucky suspects that these types of ants live up high in trees. As a result, they're hard to reach and therefore little-studied. (Andrea Lucky / Courtesy of Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Proud, loud and green

    Living 100 feet above the ground in the forest canopy, this large bright green frog was more often heard than seen in Papua New Guinea's Muller Range. At night, males proclaimed their presence with loud, guttural croaking sounds high above the camp - causing much frustration among the visiting scientists. The expedition's local tree-climber proudly delivered a handsome male to the researchers. (Stephen Richards / Courtesy of Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Playing possum

    This cute little feather-tailed possum was attracted to a light-trap put up by entomologists to catch nighttime insects at around a mile of elevation in the Muller Mountains. It may have been attempting to catch and eat moths. This animal is only known from this site and a nearby mountain, where it was discovered in 1985. The species still does not have a name. (Stephen Richards / Courtesy of Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Surprising find

    This tiny frog, measuring just an inch long, was the most exciting herpetological discovery of the Nakanai Rapid Assessment Program survey in Papua New Guinea. It belongs to a group of frogs previously only known from the Solomon Islands, and its discovery in the wet montane forests of New Britain was a complete surprise. Unlike most of his relatives this little frog did not call at night, preferring to advertise for females late in the afternoon. (Stephen Richards / Courtesy of Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Orange spider

    This new spider species from the genus Anelosimus was found in the Nakanai Mountains of New Britain, one of four new species of this genus not previously documented from New Guinea. (I. Agnarsson / Courtesy of Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Call of the wild frog

    A 2008 expedition, also led by Conservation International, turned up more than 50 new species of animals in a remote region of Papua New Guinea. This loudmouthed frog, part of the Litoria genus, was one of the discoveries. Frogs from this group call loudly for mates, with a sharp and ringing song that can be heard above the rushing water of torrential mountain streams. (Steve Richards / Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A frog that chirps

    This tiny species of Oreophryne frog, found in 2008 in New Guinea's limestone hills, is thought to be new to science. It has a sharp chirping call, and is part of a group of frogs that are common in the wet rainforests. In these saturated environments, Oreophryne and its relatives lay their eggs on the ground or in trees, where they hatch directly into tiny froglets, bypassing the tadpole stage. (Steve Richards / Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. One giant leap for spiders

    This Orthrus jumping spider was found in the Papua New Guinea rainforest and is thought to be a species new to science. Nothing is known about its ecology. In general, jumping spiders can jump at least 6 inches. They use blood pressure to jump: Muscles in the body contract to squeeze blood into the legs. That makes the legs snap straight, setting off the jump. (Wayne Maddison / Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. What big eyes you have!

    This large and spectacular Nyctimystes tree frog, apparently representing a previously unknown species, was found next to a clear mountain river. Frogs of this genus are found mainly in New Guinea's montane tropical forests, where they lay their eggs under stones in rivers and streams. (Steve Richards / Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A gecko with claws

    This bent-toed Cyrtodactylus gecko was found in a dense rainforest, climbing on mossy branches in the pouring rain. It appears to be the only known specimen of a previously unknown species. Unlike many geckos, Cyrtodactylus relies on sharp claws instead of large pads to climb high into the forest canopy, where it feeds on bugs. (Steve Richards / Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Hello, stranger

    This jumping spider represents a newly named genus and species, Tabuina varirata. It was found on a conifer tree in Papua New Guinea's rainforest and belongs to the subfamily Cocalodinae, a highly distinctive group of spiders unique to New Guinea and the region. (Wayne Maddison / Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. The mystery continues

    This Uroballus jumping spider was found in New Guinea's rainforest and appears to be a previously unknown species. Nothing is known about its ecology. There are about 5,000 described species of jumping spiders. Probably at least that many more such species remain to be discovered around the world. (Wayne Maddison / Conservation International) Back to slideshow navigation
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By
updated 3/25/2009 11:09:10 AM ET 2009-03-25T15:09:10

A brilliant green tree frog with huge black eyes, jumping spiders and a striped gecko are among more than 50 new animal species scientists have discovered in a remote, mountainous region of Papua New Guinea.

The discoveries were announced Wednesday by Washington D.C.-based Conservation International, which spent the past several months analyzing more than 600 animal species the group found during its expedition to the South Pacific island nation in July and August.

Of the animals discovered, 50 spider species, three frogs and a gecko appear to have never been described in scientific literature before, the conservation group said. 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 expedition leader Steve Richards. "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.

Rarely seen creatures"They're often regarded as a great bioindicator of environmental health," said 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.

Montclair State University anthropologist William Thomas worked with the local Hewa clan to document the area's resources during the expedition as part of a project he started with scientist Bruce Beehler of Conservation International.

"In a place like PNG, the local communities, the traditional communities, are so close to their environment," Beehler said. "By working with local communities, you actually get a leg up — you learn a lot more because they already know so much."

Conservation International plans to conduct three more expeditions to Papua New Guinea this year, in the hopes of turning up even more new animals.

"Most of us live in urban worlds where we think everything's totally well known," Beehler said. "It's a little bit of a reminder, just a wake up call, that we really need to know our world better so we can manage it better."

Conservation International's Web site has more information about the Papua New Guinea expedition and other new species around the world.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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