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'Expedition Everest' Finds New Species

ally associated with new discoveries, the team of international and local scientists also documented a significant number of new, rare and endangered species - lending further proof to the importance of Tibetan 'Sacred Lands' as a source of environmental protection in the face of increasing population pressures."The fact that we found so many new species in such a harsh environment, as well as documented several rare and endangered species, is good news for these two regions," said Dr. Leeanne Alonso, the lead scientist of the expedition and vice-president of CI's Rapid Assessment Program (RAP). "Local efforts by Tibetan communities through their 'Sacred Lands' are helping to prevent these plants and animals from going extinct and demonstrate that cultural values can play an important role in conservation." Highlights of the new species discovered by the team of biologists, botanists and other technical experts include:

* A wingless grasshopper (Kingdonella) that can withstand extremely low temperatures and communicates by 'gnashing' its teeth. The male in this group rides on the back of the female for quite a long time, often days, to prevent other males from mating with her.

* The confirmation of a new beetle species (Nicrophorus schawalleri) that specializes in burying small bird and rodent carcasses into a subterranean crypt to feed their offspring.

* A new subspecies of a small mammal known as the Qinghai vole (Microtus fuscus), which was also a new record for the Sichuan province.

* Up to three new species of frogs, eight new species of insects, and ten new species of ants

* Several potentially new species of plants.

Among the highlights of the rare and endangered species the team came across are the endangered Sichuan jumping mouse (Eozapus setchuanus); a katydid (Tettigonia chinensis) which has been seen only once since it was described in 1933; and two ancient plant species, including one that is an imp
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