A thick-thumbed bat, a color-changing lizard, and a Muppet-looking orchid are just a few of the 380 new-to-science species found and described in the Greater Mekong region of Southeast Asia between 2021 and 2022.
In a report released this week by WWF, researchers highlight the remarkable diversity in this underexplored hotbed of life. The report documents the collaborative efforts of hundreds of scientists who ventured into Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam to survey the biodiversity there in what is sometimes called the Indo-Burma hotspot. They identified 290 plant, 19 fish, 24 amphibian, 46 reptile and one mammal species.
“These remarkable species may be new to science but they have survived and evolved in the Greater Mekong region for millions of years, reminding us humans that they were there a very long time before our species moved into this region,” said K. Yoganand, WWF-Greater Mekong regional wildlife lead. “We have an obligation to do everything to stop their extinction and protect their habitats, and help their recovery.”