Even in an age where we have all the information we could ever want at our fingertips, scientists are still continuing to document new species. Researchers working in the Brazilian Amazon have totted up an incredible 381 new species over the last two years, or one new species every two days, including river dolphins and monkeys.
The trove of new critters has been announced at the same the World Wildlife Fund released their latest report, titled "New Species of Vertebrates and Plants in the Amazon 2014-2015", in conjunction with the Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development. In it, they observe that the sheer number of new species found during that period was the fastest rate of discovery observed this century.
It includes 216 new species of plants, 93 species of fish, 32 species of amphibians, 20 new species of mammals, 19 species of reptiles, and one new bird. Over the entire 24-month period that the report covers, this works out at an impressive average of one new species every 1.9 days.
Some of the more amazing discoveries include a new species of pink river dolphin (Inia Araguaiaensis) – of which it is thought around 1,000 survive in the murky waters – the fire-tailed titi monkey (Plecturocebus miltoni) with its wonderful rufous tail, a puffbird (Nystalus obamai) named after former US President Barack Obama, and a beautiful new stingray (Potamotrygon limai) that is covered in a honeycomb pattern.
Considering we are living in 2017, with vasts amount of data and technology at our disposal, it is quite astonishing that we are still finding new species at such a rate and with so few resources.
“This biodiversity needs to be known and protected,” says the coordinator of WWF-Brazil Amazon Programme, Ricardo Mello, in a statement. “Studies indicate that the greatest economic potential of a region such as the Amazon is the inclusion of biodiversity in the technological solutions of a new development model, including development of cures for diseases, relying on new species for food purposes, such as superfoods.”
But, as is predictably the case, there is a catch. Even as we’re continuing to discover more and more species in what is already the most biodiverse environment on the planet, its fate still hangs in the balance. Just last week, Brazilian President Michel Temer issued a decree that would have seen a large block of pristine rainforest opened up for mining, before the courts blocked the move.
While this is clearly good news, there are at least 60 other patches of forest, which contain an untold number of new species, that have not had the same luck and are also at risk of losing their protection.