Spectacular New Species Discovered

The latest in a series of WWF reports looks at new species discovered in the Mekong region of Southeast Asia.


ruby eyed pit viper from vietnam
Peter Paul van Dijk / Darwin Initiative
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Ruby Eyed Pit Viper from Vietnam

A "staggering" array of 21 reptiles was also newly discovered in 2011, including the ruby-eyed green pit viper in forests near Ho Chi Minh City.
yin yang frog from vietnam
Jodi J. L. Rowley/Australian Museum
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Yin Yang Frog from Vietnam

The aptly named "Yin-Yang frog" was discovered on the Langbian plateau of Vietnam, in wet evergreen and could forests. The upper one-third to one-half of its iris is white, while the bottom is black.
beelzebub's tube-nosed bat
Gabor Csorba
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Beelzebub's Tube-Nosed Bat

One of three new Murina bat species, discovered in Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve, Quang Tri Province, Vietnam, the Murina beelzebub depends on tropical forest for survival—habitats facing severe threats from human pressures. In just four decades, 30 percent of the Greater Mekong’s forests have disappeared.

It's one of 126 new species discovered by dozens of scientists working for multiple insittutions in 2011 in the Greater Mekong region of Southeast Asia, covering Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam and the Southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan. They are highlighted in a new WWF report. The new species include 82 plants, 21 reptiles, 13 fish, five amphibians and five mammals.

The Mekong region has a breathtaking array of biodiversity, but many of these new species are already struggling to survive in shrinking habitats,” said Dr. Barney Long, WWF Manager of Asian Species Programs. “It’s vital that we increase our support for protected areas and greener economic development if we want these new species protected and to ensure that other intriguing species are discovered in years to come.”

swee singing frog from vietnam
Jodi J. L. Rowley/Australian Museum
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Sweet Singing Frog from Vietnam

A new species of tree frog discovered in the high-altitude forests of northern Vietnam has a complex call that makes it sound more like a bird than a typical frog. While most male frogs attract females with repetitive croaks, Quang’s tree frog spins a new tune each time. No two calls are the same, and each individual mixes clicks, whistles and chirps in a unique order.
Jodi J. L. Rowley/Australian Museum
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Leptolalax bidoupensis from Vietnam

This frog is one of more than 100 new species discovered in Vietnam and surrounding nations in 2011.
John Varigos
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Thick-spiked Coelogyne Orchid from Thailand

One of 82 new plants discovered in the Mekong region of Southeast Asia is this beautiful orchid.
Ng Heok Hee
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Walking Catfish

A new ‘walking’ catfish species discovered in freshwater streams on the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc, can move across land using its pectoral fins to stay upright while it wiggles forward with snake-like movements. And a dazzling miniature fish (Boraras naevus), just 2cm in length, was found in southern Thailand and named after the large dark blotch on its golden body (naevus is Latin for blemish). The Mekong River supports around 850 fish species and the world’s most intensive inland fishery. Laos’ determination to construct the Xayaburi dam