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Ten new amphibian species discovered in Colombia
Date:2/2/2009

recorded for the first time in the northern area of South America, including a salamander (Bolitoglossa taylori), a rain frog (Pristimantis pirrensis), a small lizard (Ptychoglossus myersi) and a snake not yet identified.

"Once more we confirm we are leaders in natural diversity and not only in our region but in the world. Without a doubt this discovery represents a great milestone for science and human health," said Colombia's Minister of Environment Juan Lozano.

Scientists consider amphibians important indicators of ecosystem health. With porous, absorbent skin, they often provide early warnings of environmental degradation caused by acid rain, or contamination from heavy metals and pesticides that can also harm people. Amphibians help control the spread of many diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, because they eat the insects that deliver these diseases to human populations. In addition, amphibians are extremely susceptible to unusual weather variations, with many species impacted by climate change.

"Without a doubt this region is a true Noah's Ark. The high number of new amphibian species found is a sign of hope, even with the serious threat of extinction that this animal group faces in many other regions of the country and the world," said Jose Vicente Rodriguez-Mahecha, Scientific Director of CI-Colombia.

This area of the Darien is isolated from the Andes Mountain range. It is recognized as a center of endemism and valuable for its high biological diversity. Historically it has served as a bridge for exchange of flora and fauna between North and South America.

Although the natural cover of the Darien region is currently relatively undisturbed, it faces many threats and is undergoing rapid landscape transformation, mainly due to selective wood extraction, extensive cattle ranching, illicit crop cultivation, hunting, mining and habitat fragmentation. Between 25 and 30 percent of the natural vegetation of the a
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Contact: Lisa Bowen
l.bowen@conservation.org
703-341-2601
Conservation International
Source:Eurekalert

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