Scientists find 20 new species in the dense forests of the Bolivian Andes

Our planet’s catalog of wildlife has just gotten more interesting thanks to an expedition into the cloud forests of the Bolivian Andes. Scientists exploring the Zongo Valley, located near the Bolivian capital of La Paz, have unveiled 20 new species and rediscovered several ones that had not been seen for decades.

The exciting discoveries, revealed in a recently published research paper, were made on a 14-day expedition in March 2017, co-led by biologist Trond Larsen of Conservation International.

“[In Zongo] the noises you hear are from nature — all sorts of insects, frogs, and birds calling, wonderful rushing sounds and cascades of waterfalls. Everything is covered in thick layers of moss, orchids, and ferns,” Larsen told CNN. “We didn’t expect to find so many new species and to rediscover species that had been thought to be extinct.”

Among the amazing specimens discovered is the lilliputian frog which might qualify as the smallest amphibian in the Andes, measuring a minuscule 1 centimeter in length.

The researchers also discovered a new species of venomous mountain viper, called the mountain fer-de-lance, and the slender-looking Bolivian flag snake which wears the country’s national colors.

Along with the newly described species, the research team also rediscovered four species thought to be extinct, including the devil-eyed frog, not seen for 20 years, and a satyr butterfly, last seen 98 years ago.

In addition to broadening scientists’ understanding of the level of biodiversity in the Andean mountains, Conservation International says the findings make the case for the protection of the area and will help inform sustainable development plans for the region. “The importance of protecting the Zongo Valley is clearer than ever,” said Luis Revilla, mayor of La Paz, in a statement. “As La Paz continues to grow, we will take care to preserve the nearby natural resources that are so important to our wellbeing.”

Image source: Conservation International

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