Environmental News

WWF: Walking Fish & Sneezing Monkeys Among New Species Discovered In The Himalayas


The vibrant blue “walking fish” known as the Channa andrao, a type of dwarf snakehead fish, is among hundreds of new species which have been discovered in the Eastern Himalayas over the course of recent years, according to a new report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

While the new snakehead species found in West Bengal’s Lefraguri swamp bumps the number of snakehead species endemic to the region up to ten, its discovery marks just one of more than 200 new species discovered within recent years in the Eastern Himalayas.

A unicorn-esque creature called Koponeius unicornis, a new invertebrate that looks like a unicorn’s horn, and a sneezing monkey are but a couple of the 211 species discovered in the region between 2009 and 2014 — the equivalent to discovering 34 new species a year for six years straight.

The WWF report, which is titled Hidden Himalayas: Asia’s Wonderland (PDF), covers the discovery of plants, fish, amphibians, invertebrates, a reptile, bird and even a new mammal.

  • 133 plants
  • 39 invetebrates
  • 26 fish
  • 10 amphibians
  • 1 bird
  • 1 reptile
  • 1 mammal

WWF-India CEO Ravi Singh, who is also Chair of the WWF Living Himalayas Initiative, indicated in a WWF news release that he’s “excited” that the region “continues to surpise the world with the nature and pace of species discovery.”

I am excited that the region – home to a staggering number of species including some of the most charismatic fauna – continues to surprise the world with the nature and pace of species discovery

In addition to highlighting the hundreds of new species discovered by various entities, the report points out the threats facing the region’s ecosystems — an area which spans Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Tibet and India.

According to the report, the region has only managed to retain 25 percent of its original habitats as a result of development.

WWF makes a point to state that hundreds of species who call the Eastern Himalayas their home are considered globally threatened.

According to Sami Tornikoski, leader of the WWF Living Himalayas Initiative, “The challenge is to preserve our threatened ecosystems before these species, and others yet unknown are lost.”

The challenge is to preserve our threatened ecosystems before these species, and others yet unknown are lost (…) The Eastern Himalayas is at a crossroads. Governments can decide whether to follow the current path towards fragile economies that do not fully account for environmental impacts, or take an alternative path towards greener, more sustainable economic development

In other news, researchers analyzing the differences in color/hue exhibited by a particular chameleon species known as the panther chameleon discovered that what was previously thought to be a single species is actually 11 disparate groups.

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