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Scientists discover frog with inflating nose

By Matthew Knight for CNN
  • Scientists discover dozens of new species in Indonesian rainforest
  • New species of frog with an inflating nose and a "gargolye-like" gecko among the finds
  • Foja Mountains in Southeast Asia is a rich source of biodiversity

(CNN) -- Scientists have discovered a "treasure trove of new species" including a frog with a "Pinocchio-like" nose in a remote section of Indonesian rainforest in Southeast Asia.

The male tree frog, whose pointed nose was seen to inflate when calling, was one of dozens of new species found on an expedition to the Foja Mountains in the Papua province of Indonesia in New Guinea Island, organized by Conservation International's Rapid Assessment Program (RAP).

Leanne Alonso, director of RAP, told CNN: "It's a frog which goes up trees and lays its eggs on undersides of leaves. Its nose is probably inflating to call females. Usually frogs inflate under the throat when they call."

The frog, along with new species of mammals, insects, a reptile and birds were discovered on a 2008 expedition but have only recently been verified.

They include a "blossom bat" which feeds on rainforest nectar, a new type of small tree-mouse and a black and white butterfly related to the common monarch.

Scientists also discovered the world's smallest wallaby, a pair of new imperial pigeons with "rusty, whitish and gray" feathers, a giant woolly rat and a "gargoyle-like" gecko with yellow eyes.

The Foja Mountains are home to 300,000 square hectares of pristine rainforest which is "a profound species generator" and a "critical carbon-sink for the planet," says Conservation International (CI).

"The area is probably holds the highest number of species we haven't found yet. It's so isolated, and every time we go there we find new species," Alonso said.

Biologists tracked down the new species from Kwerba, a village in the foothills of Foja Mountains to its peaks which rise 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) high.

Bruce Beehler, senior research scientist at CI, said in a statement: "Places like these represent a healthy future for all of us and show that it is not too late to stop the current species extinction crisis."

The announcement of the discovery of new species comes in the same week as the International Day for Biological Diversity 2010, and only shortly after a U.N. report revealed governments around the world have failed to meet biodiversity targets set in 2002.

"While animals and plants are being wiped out across the globe at a pace never seen in millions of years, the discovery of these absolutely incredible forms of life is much-needed positive news," Beehler said.

CI, which has been conducting RAP surveys for two decades, hopes that this most recent documentation of endemic biodiversity will encourage the Indonesian government to boost long-term protection in the area.

"A lot of species are becoming extinct before we even know they exist -- especially insects. Can you imagine how many insects go extinct when you cut down a big chunk of forest?" Alonso said.

"All these species play a role in the eco-system. And all of them are what's keeping our our water, air and soil fresh. Each of them plays their part."

A special feature on the expedition, "Discovery in the Foja Mountains," will appear in the June 2010 issue of National Geographic magazine.