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New species discovered in the Mekong

By Staff
New species discovered in the Mekong

The Conservation Science Advisor to WWF, Mark Wright, says that between 1997 and 2007, scientists found an average of two previously undiscovered species every week:

Mark Wright:"Probably my favourite is the Dragon Millipede - it's only three centimetres long - absolutely lurid pink, and it produces cyanide to try to deter predators. I mean this is a real creature with attitude here. And then there are a few other things which I think show the way science works - one, the beautifully named Laotian Rock Rat, was discovered in a local food market, so the people who live there were very aware of this creature, but science came to it very late."

They remained unknown in the outside world for so long because political conflicts in the region kept scientists away until the 1990s.

WWF is warning that the main challenge facing the area is how to allow economic development while still maintaining environmental protection.

Rob Norris, BBC

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