New Amazonian species discovered every two days

Though that number is much higher than any other area on Earth, it is not entirely surprising. The Amazon is gigantic, and, as it holds 10 percent of all known plant and animal species, it is one of the most diverse regions in the world.
By Jackie Flores | Sep 06, 2017
A new two-year review shows that life in the Amazon jungle is so abundant explorers find a new plant or animal species there just about every other day.

This finding come from researchers at the World Wildlife Fund and an environmental group based in Mamirau, Brazil who tracked the number of new vertebrate and plant species reported in the Amazon during 2014 and 2015.This showed that researchers uncovered a staggering 381 never-before-seen species -- including 216 plants, 93 fish, 32 amphibians, 20 mammals, 19 reptiles, and one bird -- in that two year period.

Though that number is much higher than any other area on Earth, it is not entirely surprising. The Amazon is gigantic, and, as it holds 10 percent of all known plant and animal species, it is one of the most diverse regions in the world.

Even so, researchers were surprised by the large number of mammals and reptiles that have stayed hidden in the dense jungle for so long. Among those is a monkey known as the fire-tailed zogue zogue and a new type of river dolphin.

While the findings are exciting from an ecological standpoint, scientists are concerned that increased habitat destruction could push many species to extinction before they can be properly studied. To combat this, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has already labeled many of the newly discovered plants and animals threatened or endangered.

Every part of the jungle is at risk, but species in the southern and eastern portions of the Amazon are especially vulnerable. Scientists also state that even some areas that are currently protected federal reserves could lose that status in the coming years to make way for mining.

"Opening up these areas for mining without discussing environmental safeguards is a social and environmental international affront," said Mauricio Voivodic, executive director of the World Wildlife Fund-Brazil, in a statement. "In addition to demographic exploitation, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and water resources, this could lead to an intensification of land conflicts and threats to indigenous peoples and traditional populations. A gold rush in the region will create irreversible damage to local cultures as well."

Though the future is uncertain for much of the jungle life, the Mamirau group plans to continue looking for new plants and animals in the coming years. Many parts of the Amazon -- including the far north and western jungle -- have not been fully explored. That is where the team plans to go next in hopes of finding and conserving never-before-seen species.

"For me, this [study] shows we have a very rich Amazon," said Pablo Nassar, a biologist at the Mamirau-based environmental institute who aided the study, according to National Geographic. "We have to preserve [these species]."

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