Wednesday 26 July 2017

'Love dart'-firing slug among rainforest's surprise residents

Emily Beament

THE world's longest insect and a 'ninja' slug which fires love darts at its mate are among dozens of new species recently discovered in a stretch of "irreplaceable" rainforest, conservationists said yesterday.

The three governments with jurisdiction over the island of Borneo pledged three years ago to conserve a huge tract of tropical forest almost as big as Britain that is home to pygmy elephants, orangutans, rhinoceros and clouded leopards. And since the 'Heart of Borneo' conservation plan was drawn up, more than 120 new species have been discovered in the 220,000 sq km area of tropical rainforest, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund conservation charity.

The new discoveries include a flying frog that changes colour at night (above right), a flame-coloured snake, a "spectacled flowerpecker" bird, 29 invertebrates, 17 fish and 37 new species of orchid.

A stick insect that is more than half a metre long was also discovered as was a yellow-green 'ninja' slug that fires harpoon-like hormonal 'love darts' at its mate. According to the study, the region is home to 10 species of primate, more than 350 birds, 150 reptiles and amphibians and 10,000 types of plants. In the three years since the start of the Heart of Borneo project, WWF scientists have discovered 123 new species.

Irish Independent

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