Between 2014 and 2015, more than 381 new species were discovered in the Amazon rainforest — that’s as many as one about every two days. It’s the fastest rate seen this century.
The new species consist of 216 plants, 93 fish, 32 amphibians, 20 mammals, 19 reptiles and 1 bird — among them an endangered pink river dolphin, a freshwater stingray, and a small, red-tailed monkey called Milton’s titi. The wildlife was found across all nine South American countries that contain parts of the Amazon rainforest.
The results are detailed in a Spanish-language report released in August by the World Wildlife Fund and Brazil’s Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development.
The discoveries surprised even inveterate professionals in the field.
“We’re in 2017, verifying the existence of new species, and even though resources are scarce, we are seeing an immense variety and richness of biodiversity. This is a signal that we still have much to learn about the Amazon,” said Ricardo Mello, coordinator of the WWF-Brazil Amazon program in a statement.
Mello emphasized that it’s crucial for decision-makers to consider the effect of potentially damaging developments in the Amazon such as roads and hydroelectric dams:
“This biodiversity needs to be known and protected. 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,” Mello said.
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