(Mirror Daily, United States) – Biologists have recently discovered new Mekong species, such as a lizard with horns all over its back, a small frog, and a snake with a rainbow-colored head.
Last year, the researchers discovered over 150 new species in the Mekong region. This river has one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth as scientists discover every year many new species of plants and animals.
In other words, the identification process of Mekong species is constant and consistent. Nevertheless, the biologists studying this environment are worried that some species will be extinct before being discovered.
The area surrounding the Mekong river has been developing at a fast rate due to the lack of federal regulations. Worse, Mekong species are threatened by poaching and other environmental factors as well.
According to Jimmy Borah, a WWF researcher of the Greater Mekong team, this region has become a magnet for hundreds of conservation scientists thanks to its biodiversity of species which are constantly discovered here.
These conservationists are the last obstacle standing between multiple environmental threats and the newly discovered Mekong species. The Greater Mekong region includes Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and southwestern China.
As such, it is constantly pressured by road and dam building. Also, it has become the ideal place for illegal animal trade. Borah underlines that many of the endangered and new Mekong species are worth a fortune on the black market.
These animals are not sold just for medicinal purposes, but they are also very much desired by the wealthiest collectors in the world. In 2015, researchers listed 163 new Mekong species including 126 plants, 14 reptiles, eleven fish, three mammals, and nine amphibians.
Among the most attractive species is a snake called parafimbrios lao discovered in the northern Laos. The scales on its head reflect colors which resemble the rainbow. In addition, the biologists found on Phuket a lizard, known as Acanthosaura Phuketensis, which had horns all over its head and back.
In Vietnam and Cambodia, the researchers found a 3cm-long frog (Leptolalax Isos) which they could hold on a fingertip. Although it was first discovered in 2006, the scientists needed another ten years of research to confirm that it was a new species. From 1997 to 2015, biologists described 2,409 new Mekong species, meaning two discoveries per week.