Researchers have released the findings of a ten year study into the wildlife of the Greater Mekong River area in Southeast Asia — Over 1000 new species discovered!

Before you all break into a heated, name-calling brawl on whether these should actually be called “new species” or “species that are new to science” or “species that are new to ‘Western’ science”, allow Andrew and me to put the issue to rest: These species should be considered not only new species to science, but new species to humanity and to the world, as this is the first time that Western scientists, i.e. imporant people, have made their acquaintence. Hopefully, that fact will quell any fiery debate before it begins.

Here are some pics from the nationalgeographic.com article on the subject.

i-dc7c4d281bcef9f1e78a4ebf9b80444e-Mekong millipede.jpg
This adorable shocking pink, dragon millipede shoots cyanide at you when disturbed…true. Fun fact #2: If one of these attacks you in a dream, you will still bear the scars when you awake!

i-ac12bd6134e3e8d7e8a8f9ea9da6af20-Mekong Spider 2.jpg
With a legspan of over 12 inches, this newly discovered Laotian Heteropoda maxima spider maybe the largest spider in the world. I’d like to wear one as a hat!

More below the fold…

i-80957780427ee00af94b8d34a93eab86-Mekong Frog.jpg
Leptobrachium smithi, or Smith’s litter frog, found in Thailand. One of many, many, many new species of amphibians discovered in the area.

i-63cd227e791ca4a56f4159ffe108fa84-Mekong Bat.jpg
New bat. The Kachin woolly.

i-9eb8a02037224b0827caf47ef8ad9c18-Mekong Spider 1.jpg
Another Laotian spider, the Pseudopoda confusa. Translated into English from Latin, its name means, “the bewildering fake container”…Makes sense.

i-9ef123ecd86b3050cbb7e29edde6ca5e-Mekong Snake.jpg
Gumprecht’s green pit viper, awesome.


  1. #1 Kai
    December 16, 2008

    Actually, psuedopoda refers to “fake foot”. -poda is “foot” from the New Latin, -pod is “foot” or “foot-like” from the Greek. See Arthropoda. πŸ™‚

  2. #2 ym
    December 16, 2008

    that pit viper’s green is incredible, really startling, he’s gorgeous

  3. #3 Omar Amer
    December 16, 2008

    great little post! I’ll go read about these discoveries. wonderfully fascinating in appearance – these marvels of nature are.

    just a point of note – you may want to edit your post to be a little bit more politically correct. I’m sure the scientific community in the rest of the world wouldn’t take too kindly to you stating that only Western scientists are relevant. Feel free to edit this paragraph out of the comment after you’ve corrected this glaring factual inaccuracy.



  4. #4 Lily
    December 16, 2008

    Omar, Benny is clearly being sarcastic/making a joke there–he’s not actually claiming that only Western scientists are relevant. Don’t worry (otherwise we’d all be angry at him too).

  5. #5 katie 2.0
    December 17, 2008

    Any idea how I can learn to shoot cyanide at people and be a shockingly loud color too? I’m ready for Lamarckian evolution!

  6. #6 juliagoolia
    December 17, 2008

    That snake picture is amazing! As a Western Scientist, I approve of the addition of these new species to existence.

  7. #7 Pat
    December 17, 2008

    I’m intrigued by the “spider-as-hat” idea and may go shopping for any post-holiday spider-hat sales in the lesser-known areas of town. Wish me luck!

  8. #8 Hilary Minor
    December 18, 2008

    What an exciting post! And I say that as a non-scientist (i.e a very unimportant person, but be careful – I’m a Level 5 campaigner on Panda Passport!) and one fascinated by zoology in general and marine biology in particular. This is the sort of post that makes me feel “better” about the constant complaint of species extinction and near-extinction. How many more new species are there to find on land and under water, I wonder. Many, I suspect πŸ™‚ I’ve just been reading Stephen Jay Gould’s “Wonderful Life” and what I say is – evolution, evolution, evolution – bring it on!

  9. #9 EG
    December 18, 2008

    When new species are discovered, say 1000, does this provide more or less evidence for evolution- statistically speaking?

  10. #10 Jeremy
    December 18, 2008

    More evidence for evolution, because it means it would have been an even tighter fit on the arc πŸ˜‰

    But also I’m unsure of the argument why it would be less evidence for evolution, but certainly it’s consistent with the theory of evolution. Of course given that evolution has been directly observed, I’m not sure how you can have “more evidence” any more than you can have more evidence for gravity.

  11. #11 alufelgi szczecin
    December 22, 2008

    Wow! This the very important discovery. I think they will discover more soon.

  12. #12 EG
    December 29, 2008

    Thanks Jeremy. It is funny to think of so many different species fitting on one giant arc πŸ˜‰ There does seem to be inferential evidence for evolution. Though, I have to admit my ignorance that evolution was an undisputed fact (in scientific terms, a law) as in the case with gravity. So far all I’ve read about is direct evidence for natural selection- which is common sense- but not for speciation as a result of natural selection (i.e. evolution). Anyone care to enlighten me with a good, scientific website? Would be much appreciated, since I don’t want to sound like a know-nothing on future posts! And also, doesn’t it just seem like everyone needs to have SOMETHING to believe in.
    Hooray for lots of newly discovered animals!!

  13. #13 JP
    December 31, 2008

    I think I’ll stop reading this blog since you believe Eastern people are unimportant tsk

  14. #14 Jim Thomerson
    January 2, 2009

    So far as I know, scientists world-wide follow the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. When it comes to taxonomy, there is no Western vs. Eastern science. (Some would say not much science in any case.)

    I was told this story by a participant. During the Viet Nam war, a team from Univ. of Michigan was studying the fisheries potential of the Mekong River. All had been going well. Then their local associates told them something bad was going to happen, and they best vacate the area. They checked with the American Embassy and were told not to worry. Talked some more with local friends. Although they were not finished with their work, they decided to pack up their nets and get on an airplane to home. The Tet Offensive started the day after they left.

  15. #15 Ilovemyfuzzies
    January 5, 2009

    I told my friend about the 12-inch spider today and she said she would like to wear it as a hat too. I’d hate to find something like THAT in my basement.

  16. #16 Mrs Tilton
    January 7, 2009

    Haven’t seen the Geographic article, but H. maxima‘s not all that newly-discovered, even by the standards of ignorant western science. Peter Jδger from our local museum (the Senckenberg) found some in Laos a few years ago and they’ve been on display here ever since; his formal description was published in 2001.

    They wouldn’t really be all that great as hats, either. You’d only achieve that 12-inch legspan bύ unnaturally stretching their limbs out flat and then nailing their feet to the substrate. And if you did that, they’d probably just autotomise (and if the substrate were your head, the nails might cause pain). Far better to accept their natural pose and the smaller legspan that goes with it, and use them not as hats but as epaulettes for your dress uniform as Admiral of Hell.

  17. #17 neon
    April 2, 2009

    The theory of evolution. Of course given that evolution has been directly observed, I’m not sure how you can have “more evidence” any more than you can have more evidence for gravity.

  18. #18 Steven James
    May 16, 2010

    I realize most of you, if not all of you reading this are 123241 times smarter than me, but all I got out of a few of these comments was “Look how much smarter I am than you.” Check out the Discovery Channel Site and you can read that these are all new species. (according to the west.) Found within the last DECADE. So we’re talking up to ten years new, but it really is awesome stuff I really love the millipede, in fact it’s the whole reason I found this blog, I was just searching for a picture of the thing to show my Myspace buddies.

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