New species found on trip to 'Lost World'

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The Independent Online

We may think we've seen it all when it comes to wildlife, but we haven't, as these remarkable pictures prove. You won't find any of these creatures in any zoo or aviary or animal collection, as every single one of them is believed to be new to science.

They are the results of an expedition to the Foja mountains of western New Guinea, a remote, untouched part of Indonesia which is one of the least disturbed areas in the whole Asia-Pacific region. An expedition to Foja in 2007 produced two new mammals, a pygmy possum and a giant rat, yet a subsequent exploration a year later produced an even richer haul of new species, whose pictures were unveiled for the first time yesterday. The group includes several new mammals, a reptile, an amphibian, no fewer than twelve insects and the remarkable discovery of a new bird.

More specifically, they include a bizarre spike-nosed tree frog; an oversized, but notably tame, woolly rat; a gargoyle-like gecko with yellow eyes; a tiny forest wallaby, the smallest member of the kangaroo family in the world; and a new species of imperial pigeon. Other discoveries included a new blossom bat, which feeds on rainforest nectar, a small new tree-mouse, a new flowering shrub, and a new black and white butterfly related to the monarch of North America.

Rising to more than 7,000ft, the Foja mountains encompass an area of more than 300,000 square hectares of unroaded, undeveloped and undisturbed rainforest and were dubbed "The Lost World" when news of the first expedition was released.

The subsequent expedition proved that they were even richer in wildlife than scientists had suspected. "While animals and plants are being wiped out across the globe at a pace never seen in millions of years, the discovery of these absolutely incredible forms of life is much needed positive news," said Dr Bruce Beehler, a senior research scientist at the US wildlife charity, Conservation International, and a participant on the expedition.

"Places like these represent a healthy future for all of us and show that it is not too late to stop the current species extinction crisis."