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Senckenberg Scientists Discover 491 New Species in Last Two Years

Jan 28, 2013 07:02 AM EST
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Almost 500 new species of plants and animals has been discovered and described by Senckenberg research institutes in the last two years.

Scientists at 10 Senckenberg research institutes have found different species of flora and fauna in the deep sea of the Antarctic or the rainforests of Laos, using new research methods or studying previously unidentified material.

"The objective always is to record and preserve the diversity of life on earth, in other words, biodiversity," Prof. Volker Mosbrugger, Director General of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung in Germany, said in a statement.

Over 1,100 new species were discovered in the last five years. In 2011 and 2012, Senckenberg researchers discovered a total of 491 new species, including 404 living species and 87 fossilized species. They used genetic and traditional methods such as morphological examinations to identify and describe the species.

Out of 491 species, 416 live on land and 75 in the oceans. Most of the new species (324) were found in Asia, while no less than 96 species were found in Europe. The discovery ranges from colorful island crabs to the Yellow Dyer Rain Frog and the first eyeless huntsman spider.

Arthropods that include insects, spiders and crabs, top the list of new discoveries (over 300), followed by mollusks (64) and plants (30).

"2012 was the most successful Senckenberg year so far, with 331 newly discovered species," Mosbrugger said. "We have therefore described around two percent of all newly discovered species worldwide."

Some species which have been recently discovered are already facing a threat of extinction. Identifying and describing a species is a significant process in protecting the species. Once a species is officially named, it would help in taking better conservation efforts to protect the species, according to the researchers.

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