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Eight unique and wonderful new Amazon species you didn’t know existed


Did you know that new species are constantly being discovered? We have good news to share. 381 new species were recently discovered in the Amazon, our new report highlights.

The Amazon is both the largest tropical forest and the largest river system, playing a vital role in global climate regulation. It extends over 1% of the planet surface, but hosts 10% of its biodiversity.

The report, ‘Untold Treasures: New Species Discoveries in the Amazon 2014-15′ PDF, produced by WWF and Mamiraua’ Institute in Brazil, also includes an update on species identified in a previous 2010- 2013 species list. All these new discoveries add to over 1200 new species described between 1999 and 2009. A new species is discovered every two days, highlighting how the Amazon is even richer than we thought. However, this vast rainforest continues to be threatened by agriculture, mining, infrastructure, and hunting.

Many of these new species were discovered in protected areas, which are crucial to ensure the future of the Amazon. Unfortunately, the Brazilian government is currently trying to undermine protected areas to open them to mining and development. There are at least 60 other areas at risk of losing their status in Brazil, which threaten species and communities that depend on the rainforest.

The report highlighted 216 new species of plants, 93 fishes 32 amphibians, 19 reptiles, 20 mammals, and 1 bird. Here we highlight eight of these new wonderful treasures for you to discover:

Fire-tailed titi monkey (Plecturocebus miltoni)

Fire tailed titi monkey ©Adriano Gambarini/WWFFire tailed titi monkey ©Adriano Gambarini/WWF

Milton’s titis are small monkeys. They weigh around 1.5 kg, eat fruit and spend time grooming each others. They are particularly threatened by deforestation because they are not able to cross mountains and rivers to move to more forested areas. Their name comes from their long and bright orange tail.

A bird that honours the Brazilian rubber tapper (Zimmerius chicomendesi)

Chico’s Tyrannulet © Bret WhitneyChico’s Tyrannulet © Bret Whitney

The Chico’s Tyrannulet was discovered thanks to his unknown call attracting attention. It is an important seed disperser and has a restricted distribution compared to many other species in the Amazon. His name is a tribute to Chico Mendes, a rubber tapper and environmentalist who fought to protect the rainforest, opening the world’s eyes on the Amazon and its threats

An enigmatic, nocturnal frog (Tepuihyla obscura)

Enigmatic nocturnal frog © Philippe J. R. KokEnigmatic nocturnal frog © Philippe J. R. Kok

This frog spends the day hiding in bromeliad plants, hence its name obscura, coming from Latin and referring to its enigmatic nature. It is active at night and inhabits Venezualan tepuis table mountains at an altitude between 1,800 and 2,600 m.

A curious electric fish (Rhamphichthys heleios)

A curious electric fish © Tiago CarvalhoA curious electric fish © Tiago Carvalho

This fish sends out weak electric charges for navigation, communication, and detection. It can reach 1 meter in length and it is active at night, while spending the day buried in the sand.

 A new species of pink river dolphin (Inia araguaiaensis)

A new species of pink river dolphin © Gabriel Melo-SantosA new species of pink river dolphin © Gabriel Melo-Santos

Limited to only one basin and estimated to have a population of around 1,000 individuals this species is threatened from hydroelectric dams, and industrial activities. Three out of the four other pink river dolphin species are also under threat. Pink river dolphins populate myths, legends, and the culture of the Amazon. Their colour comes from blood vessels underneath the skin. Another species of river dolphin was discovered between 2010 and 2013.

The second mountaintop reptile (Riolama inopinata)

The second mountaintop reptile © Philippe J. R. KokThe second mountaintop reptile © Philippe J. R. Kok

This lizard manages to live in the remote Murisipán-tepui, 2400 m above sea level. It is the second reptile discovered at this site, in a climate that is inaccessible for many species. Its discovery was surprising, jence its name inopinata, which derives from Latin and means “unexpected”.

A freshwater honeycomb-patterned stingray (Potamotrygon limai)

 A freshwater 'honeycomb' stingray © João Pedro Fontenelle de Araújo Freire da SilvaA freshwater ‘honeycomb’ stingray © João Pedro Fontenelle de Araújo Freire da Silva

This beautiful stingray is found in the Brazilian state of Rondônia. It has honeycomb-like speckles and measures around 65cm in length. It is exclusive to freshwater environments in South America and it is unfortunately also commercialised as ornamental fish.

A frog that glitters like gold (Pristimantis imthurni)

Golden frog © Philippe J. R. KokGolden frog © Philippe J. R. Kok

Unique, striking, photogenic. This tiny frog lives in a restricted region of ‘The Lost World’ table mountains in Venezuela. Imagine climbing these mountains, reaching 2,000 m and spotting this golden beauty.

As you can see, these are just a few of the unique and wonderful new species, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. These findings tell us that the Amazon is an even richer and more complex universe than we thought. If we don’t act fast we may never discover all the species that inhabit the Amazon rainforest.

Help us protect the Amazon

We are relentlessly working to stop deforestation by supporting sustainable development and protected areas. Please help our work by adopting a jaguar. Conserving this majestic and endangered cat, will help to protect all other discovered and undiscovered species in the Amazon.

Learn more about the Amazon

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