163 New Species Found In SEA’s Greater Mekong Region

First Posted: Dec 21, 2016 04:38 AM EST

There are wins and losses in the animal kingdom this year: tiger populations are steady and pandas are off the critically endangered species list. However, there have been reports of the Earth losing two-thirds of its vertebrae species, elephants are doing worse than ever, and giraffes made their way to being endangered.

Still, this does not mean that humans can lose all hope: the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) showed that the world is full of amazing creatures, with 163 new species of flora and fauna discovered that were previously unknown to science, all found by various researchers in the Greater Mekong Region in the South East Asia in 2015.

The Smithsonian noted that the species included three mammals, nine amphibians, 11 fish, 14 reptiles and even 126 plant species. The report stated that since 1997, scientists have already catalogued over 2,000 new species in a complex environment of jungles, tributaries and even wetlands around Mekong -- an area that winds through Southeast Asia, including countries of Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

Fox News noted that none of these species were previously known to have existed, and because of habitat destruction, it is unknown how long they have to survive.

Jimmy Borah of the WWF told Reuters, "The Greater Mekong region keeps reminding us that there are many incredible, unexplored areas, leading to new discoveries happening every year and it is crucial that we protect them before they are lost."

Among the species discovered are true rock stars in their name alone: a snake species with an iridescent head was unlike any encountered in the area and so named the Ziggy Stardust Snake -- a tribute to David Bowie.

Then, a scientist also decided that a 2 and a half inch newt from Thailand looks a lot like a Klingon from sci-fi series Star Trek, which is why the species has been fondly called the Klingon Newt, although its Latin name is harder to pronounce: Tylototrion anguliceps.

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