Hundreds of new species discovered in Papua New Guinea

Researchers have released studies from an expedition conducted last year that is highlighted by the discovery of over 200 new animal, insect and plant species.

The expedition, assembled by the Conservation International Rapid Assessment Program, sent researchers to New Guinea for a period between April and September 2009 and has yielded an incredible number of finds as noted in a report released Tuesday.

Most of the new species discovered were found in undeveloped areas of Papua New Guinea and include a white-tailed mouse, 24 species of frogs, nine new types of plants, 100 new insects and over 100 new species of spiders.

[Click here to see a gallery of some of the new species]

The Conservation International Rapid Assessment Program is designed to explore remote areas in an effort to document and observe new areas and ecosystems that might otherwise go undiscovered.

Many of the species found in Papua New Guinea were found deep in the heart of forests that span over the Nakanai and Muller mountain ranges and required the researchers to explore on foot given the rugged nature of the terrain.

New species discovered

Of the new species discovered, researchers with the Rapid Assessment Program are excited over a new type of katydid, which as yet has not been named.

The new katydid is believed to have the largest head of any type of known katydid and was found at an altitude that was greater than any other katydid discovered previously.

The large-headed katydid was not the only of its type to be discovered, as the findings disclose that another new katydid species, one with pink eyes, was also found on the expedition.

Another interesting find was a white-tailed mouse, which researchers believe has no relatives that bear any relation to it, making it a discovery of not just a new species, but also a new genus.

Other notable discoveries yielded in the expedition include a tree-dwelling ant species, a type of rhododendron with large white flowers and a yellow-spotted frog that lays its eggs on land or in trees, bypassing the tadpole stage.

Besides the new finds, the Rapid Assessment Program also uncovered a number of species that have not been seen for some time including a tube-nosed fruit bat and a feather-tailed possum species first observed in 1985.

With the Papua New Guinea area seeing an increase in timber, agriculture and mining practices, researchers hope that the forests might now become part of UNESCO's World Heritage List that works to preserve and protect areas that are considered to have “outstanding universal value.”