Jun 4, 2007
A frog with purple fluorescent markings is among 24 new species discovered by Conservation International in Suriname over the past two years.
This species of dwarf catfish, likely unique to the area, is called "big mouth" by its discoverers due to the unusually large size of its mouth.
The scientists also encountered the first Harttiella crassicauda, or dwarf suckermouth catfish, seen in more than 50 years
The group found five new types of frogs in all, including this Eleutherodactylus frog, plus six types of fish, 12 dung beetles and one ant species
Scientists combing Suriname 's Nassau plateau and Lely Mountains found four other new frog species aside from the purple one, six species of fish, 12 dung beetles and a new ant species, the organization said in a statement.
These creatures were discovered by 13 scientists who explored a region about 80 miles southeast of Paramaribo, including areas with enough clean fresh water sources to support abundant fish and amphibians.
They also found 27 species native to the Guayana Shield region, which spreads over Suriname , Guyana, French Guiana and northern Brazil. One of these was the rare armored catfish, which conservationists feared was extinct because gold miners had contaminated a creek where it was last seen 50 years ago.
Including the new species, the scientists observed 467 species at the two sites, ranging from large cats like panthers and pumas, to monkeys, reptiles, bats and insects.
While these places are far from human civilization, they are totally unprotected and may be threatened by illegal gold-mining, Alonso said.
These highland areas have also been investigated as sources of bauxite, used to make aluminum, but will most likely not be mined in the future, she said, at least not by the two mining companies that sponsored the study.
The sponsors are BHP Billiton Maatschappij Suriname (BMS, a subsidiary of BHP Billiton) Suriname Aluminium Company LLC (Suralco, a subsidiary of Alcoa Inc).
"It's an opportunity now for all the players, the mining companies who still have mining concessions there, the local communities, the government, the NGOs (non-governmental organizations), to try to make a regional plan for the area," Alonso said.