Nature's 'treasure' unearthed in Borneo
Apr 23, 2010, 13:28 PM
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Color-changing frogs, the world's longest stick insect and a slug that shoots "love darts" are among the biological "treasure" discovered by scientists in the lush green heart of Borneo.
Scientists have found 123 new species of animals, insects and plants on the South East Asian island since the three governments that control the land signed a pact to safeguard its future in 2007.
The new species are on a list released Thursday by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to mark Earth Day and to raise awareness of the value of protecting areas rich in biodiversity.
"You have some iconic small species which are very interesting to talk about but perhaps it's the plants that are tremendously important in terms of potential future cures," said David Norman, director of campaigns for the WWF.
"About half of all synthetic drugs have a natural origin -- these are commercial drugs based on plants and sometimes animals. So we can't afford to lose species," he said.
The number of new plant species discovered in Borneo in the last three years outnumbers all the other categories combined. Sixty-seven new plants have been found, along with 29 invertebrates, 17 new species of fish, one bird, five amphibians and five reptiles. The WWF describes the region as a "global treasure teeming with unique and extraordinary life."...
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