26 Oct 2010:
More than 1,200 New Species
Discovered in Amazon Over Last Decade
Researchers discovered more than 1,200 new species
of plants and animals in the Amazon during the last decade, a rate of about one new species every three days, according to a new report. Those discoveries, compiled by the conservation group WWF
to coincide with the ongoing UN summit on biodiversity in
Japan, have included 637 new plant species, 257 fish species, 216 amphibian species, and 39 mammal species. At least 10 percent of the species on the planet are found in the Amazon, said Meg Symington, a tropical ecologist with the group. “We think when all the counting is done, the Amazon could account for up to 30 percent of the species on Earth,” she said. According to the group, the rapid pace of discovery in the Amazon shows just how much science is still learning about the region and underscores the importance of preserving the Amazon’s forests, which store vast amounts of carbon and have provided many new species used in pharmaceuticals. In the past five decades, settlers, farmers, and loggers have destroyed at least 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest — an area twice the size of Spain.
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