Two-year Amazon study yields 381 new species

Scientists suspect there are still many more species waiting to be discovered in the Amazon.
By Brooks Hays  |  Aug. 31, 2017 at 2:06 PM
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Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Scientists have described 381 new Amazonian species in a new paper published this week.

The species were identified over the course of a two-year survey by a team of researchers working with the World Wildlife Fund and Brazil's Mamiraua Institute for Sustainable Development.

The haul of newly named species includes 216 plants, 93 fish, 32 amphibians, 20 mammals, 19 reptiles and one bird.

Researchers discovered a new species of marine mammal, the Araguaian river dolphin, as well as a new monkey species, fire-tailed titi monkeys.

The report, published online this week, comes as Brazil's government continues to face criticism over its attempt to open up large portions of the Amazon to mining. On Wednesday, Brazil's government blocked the president's mining decree.

"We are only at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unveiling the incredible species that live in the Amazon, yet instead of this precious area being safeguarded, it is under greater threat than ever before," Sarah Hutchison, head of programming for Brazil and Amazon at WWF, told The Independent.

Some estimates suggest pollution, deforestation and other man-made impacts have accelerated the natural rate of extinction by as much as 1,000-fold.

Scientists suspect there are many more species waiting to be discovered in the Amazon, but the statistics suggest some of those species are likely to disappear before humans get a chance to study and protect them.

Brazilian president Michael Temer said the opening up of the eastern Amazon's Renca reserve to commercial activities would boost the country's economy. But the move is facing significant opposition.

"If the government insisted on opening up these areas for mining without discussing environmental safeguards it will have to deal with an international outcry," WWF officials said.

"Opening up these areas for mining without discussing environmental safeguards is a social and environmental international affront," added Mauricio Voivodic, WWF-Brazil's executive director. "In addition to demographic exploitation, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and water resources, this could lead to an intensification of land conflicts and threats to indigenous peoples and traditional populations."

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