Purring monkey and vegetarian piranha among 400 new Amazon species

A purring monkey, a vegetarian piranha and a flame-patterned lizard are among more than 400 new species of animals and plants that have been discovered in the past four years in the Amazon rainforest, conservationists say.

Discovered through hundreds of scientific expeditions between 2010 to 2013, the total of 441 new species – all new to science – includes 258 plants, 84 fish, 58 amphibians, 22 reptiles, 18 birds and one mammal. This tally does not include discoveries of insects and other invertebrates.

"The more scientists look, the more they find," said Damian Fleming, head of programmes for Brazil and the Amazon at WWF-UK, which compiled the list. "With an average of two new species identified every week for the past four years, it's clear that the extraordinary Amazon remains one of the most important centres of global biodiversity."

Among the new species discovered is a "purring" Caqueta titi monkey (Callicebus caquetensis) of the Colombian Amazon, whose babies have an endearing trait: "All of the babies purr like cats," said scientist Thomas Defler, who helped discover the species. "When they feel very content they purr towards each other, and the ones we raised would purr to us."

A 'vegetarian' piranha (Tometes camunani) – Para, Brazilian Amazon

A "warpainted lizard" (Gonatodes timidus) was discovered in the part of the Amazon that extends into Guyana. Despite its extraordinary colouring, this lizard is very shy and has a tendency to avoid being seen by humans.

Some species may be lost just as they have been discovered, scientists warned. The thumbnail-sized "thimble frog" has been given a Latin name (Allobates amissibilis) meaning "that may be lost", because it thrives in an area of Guyana that could soon be opened up to tourism.

A 'purring' monkey (Callicebus caquetensis) – Colombian Amazon

Other species are under threat from development. The strictly herbivorous "vegetarian piranha" (Tometes camunani), inhabits rocky rapids in the Brazilian Amason where its main source of food, Podostemaceae aquatic herbs, is found. However, dam projects and mining activity in ParĂ¡ state are threatening the health and flow of its river habitat.

The 'thimble frog' (Allobates amissibilis) – Guyana

Many of the recently discovered plants and animals have very restricted ranges and are thought to be endemic to small parts of the Amazon. For example, a new fish species (Apistogramma cinilabra) that has adapted to low-oxygen water is unique to one small lake in the Loreto region of Peru and found nowhere else in the world – making it and other species even more vulnerable.

 A beautiful orchid (Sobralia imavieirae) – Roraima, Brazilian Amazon 

The Amazon ecosystem is the world's largest tropical rainforest and river system, covering 6.7m square miles shared by Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. It is rich in biodiversity, containing one in 10 of the species known on Earth in 1.4bn acres of dense forest and 4,100 miles of winding rivers.

A recent study found that almost 400 billion trees belonging to 16,000 different species grow in the Amazon.

A new species of passion flower 

Deforestation, intensive farming, climate change, natural resources extraction and hydropower are among the chief threats to the forest and freshwater ecosystems.

About one-fifth of the Amazon rainforest has already been lost, and deforestation is currently taking place at a rate of three football pitches of a minute, WWF says. In the past eight years, Brazil has slowed the pace of forest clearance by 80%, but roughly 6,000 sq km is still converted to farmland each year.

a new species of snake

Responses to "Never-before-seen pictures of new animal species discovered in the Amazon (Photos)"

  1. Janice Lennox says:

    Wonderful pictures of discoveries, Animal species all depend on each other for survival . We do need to protect the AMAZON, which is an important part of our environment.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am against the slash and burn that destroys wildlife. When they are gone, so are we right behind them. If the animals are not her on earth to kill off. What is with all this killing ? If you have to kill, then I suggest you go first and leave the world to the rest of us.

  3. Anonymous says:

    he amazon truly needs to be saved as there are many medicinal plants yet to be cultivated as well as many creatures to be discovered

  4. Unknown says:

    This type of ecoside with deforestation needs to halt. How can we humans continue to allow such greed and perversion. Many of these new species and many still undiscovered will soon be homeless and we will have lost what can not be replaced.

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