Dozens of new flora, fauna species in Myanmar

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 5, 2014 at 9:50 am •  Published: June 5, 2014
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YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A dragon fish with intricate, maze-like markings on every scale, a frog with rough, chocolate-colored skin and a ginger plant are among more than two dozen flora and fauna species found in Myanmar since it emerged from a half-century of military rule and isolation.

The World Wildlife Fund said Thursday the discoveries by global scientists in the last two years highlight the need to invest in conservation as the biologically diverse nation of 60 million revs up its economic engines and opens up to foreign investment.

Already, it is starting to succumb to many of the pressures felt by neighbors in Southeast Asia, from deforestation and illegal wildlife trade to mining and the development of hydropower.

The 26 plants and animals newly identified in Myanmar include a species of dragon fish, which are hugely popular in the Asian aquatic world. The so-called "scribbled arowana," is creating a buzz on the aquarium fish blogosphere because of its unheard-of complex, maze-like markings on every individual scale.

Previously unidentified by scientists, a ginger plant collected from a single region in the cloud forests of the western state of Rakhine had been hiding in plain sight at local markets, WWF said. And a chocolate-spotted frog, a member of the Amolops family, was discovered in a mountain range that stretches along Myanmar's western border and India.

Win Myo Thu, co-founder of the local environmental group EcoDev, believes scientists have only scraped the surface of what is yet to be discovered in his country.

In part because Myanmar was cut off from the rest of the world for such a long time, limiting the ability to carry out a proper inventory, "there is a huge, huge knowledge gap," he said. "The more research that is done, the more species we are going to find."

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