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Scientists discover dozens of new species in 'Lost World' of western New Guinea

An expedition to one of Asia's most isolated jungles ?in the mist-shrouded Foja Mountains of western New Guinea ?discovered a virtual ''Lost World" of new species, giant flowers, and rare wildlife that was unafraid of humans.

The December 2005 trip by a team of U.S., Indonesian, and Australian scientists led by Conservation International (CI) found dozens of new species including frogs, butterflies, plants, and an orange-faced honeyeater, the first new bird from the island of New Guinea in more than 60 years.

Conservation International and the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) sponsored the expedition, with financial support from the Swift Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the National Geographic Society and the Global Environment Project Institute.

The team captured the first photos ever seen of exotic birds such as a male Berlepsch's Six-Wired Bird of Paradise (Parotia berlepschi). It also found a new large mammal for Indonesia ?the Golden-mantled Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus pulcherrimus), formerly known from only a single mountain in neighboring Papua New Guinea.

"It's as close to the Garden of Eden as you're going to find on Earth," marveled Bruce Beehler, vice president of CI's Melanesia Center for Biodiversity Conservation and a co-leader of the expedition. "The first bird we saw at our camp was a new species. Large mammals that have been hunted to near extinction elsewhere were here in abundance. We were able to simply pick up two Long-Beaked Echidnas, a primitive egg-laying mammal that is little known."

The discoveries solved one major ornithological mystery ?the location of the homeland of Berlepsch's Six-Wired Bird of Paradise. First described in the late 19th century through specimens collected by indigenous hunters from an unknown location on New Guinea, the species had been the focus of several subsequent expeditions that failed to find it.

On the second day of the recent month-long
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Source:Conservation International


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