There are some 8.7 million known species on Earth. But it’s always exciting to know when scientists find some mysterious creature they didn’t know existed or rediscover one not seen in ages. When it comes to biodiversity, more is a good thing. And I know this is silly, but honestly, bonus points if they’re cute, right?
Well, here’s a treat: On a trip up to the Zongo Valley region of the Andes, a team of researchers led by biologist Trond Larsen, who works with the environmental protection advocacy group Conservation International, recently cataloged not one, not two, but 20 species that scientists didn’t know were out there. They came across some super-rare species, too, which weren’t totally unknown to the research community but hadn’t been seen in a long time, as well as some more commonly seen ones that are just amazing.
“These discoveries are the result of 14 days of intense field work spread across the rugged terrain, misty cloud forests and cascading waterfalls of the Zongo, a truly beautiful and diverse landscape,” Larsen said in an emailed statement. “The remarkable rediscovery of species once thought extinct, especially so close to the city of La Paz, illustrates how sustainable development that embraces conservation of nature can ensure long-term protection of biodiversity as well as the benefits ecosystems provide to people. This area has become a safe haven for amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, and plants that haven’t been found anywhere else on Earth.”
I know you want to see them. So here some highlights.