Scientists have discovered a staggering 200 new species of wildlife on the remote islands of Papua New Guinea – including an entirely new white-tailed mouse.
The ”incredibly significant” find includes 24 new species of frogs, two new mammals, nine plants, nearly 100 insects including damselflies, katydids and ants, and 100 new spiders.
They were discovered on the remote Papua New Guinea island of New Britain and the Southern Highlands ranges in the central mainland.
The locations are so isolated scientists could only access the rugged, forest-cloaked sites by a combination of small plane, helicopter, dinghy and foot.
One of the most interesting discoveries is the ”distinctive” white tip tailed mouse spotted 1,590 metres above sea level in the Nakanai mountain range.
The cute rodent has no known close relatives and represents an entirely new living organism.
Other new discoveries include several katydids and at least one ant which are so different from any known species that they represent entirely new genera.
The searches were conducted in September 2009 as part of Conservation International’s global efforts to document the biodiversity of poorly known but species-rich environments and raise their profile.
Leeanne (corr) Alonso of Conservation International said: ”There’s no question that the discoveries we made in both surveys are incredibly significant both for the large numbers of new species recorded, and the new genera identified.
”These discoveries should serve as a cautionary message about how much we still don’t know about Earth’s still hidden secrets and important natural resources.”
Papua New Guinea’s jungles are, alongside the Amazon and Congo, one of only three rainforests left in the world and one of the best sources for new discoveries.
In 2006, a team came discovered a creature called Berlepsch’s six-wired bird of paradise, named after the six spines on the top of its head. It was thought the bird had been lost to science having only previously been identified from the feathers of dead birds.
Last year scientists from Britain discovered the giant Bosavi woolly rat which showed no fear of humans and, at 82cm long, is among the world’s largest rats.