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Flying frog a new discovery in Viet Nam

Update: June, 15/2014 - 12:00

Plants and animals that were not known have been found in south-east Asia.

An interesting one is the Helen's flying frog, which can even be found close to Ho Chi Minh City.

It stays away from humans, which is why it has probably not become known to the scientific world.

It also jumps so far that it flies.

In Viet Nam, scientists recently discovered Helens Flying Frog, (Rhacophorus helenae), a huge, green,
In Viet Nam, scientists recently discovered Helens Flying Frog, (Rhacophorus helenae), a huge, green, "flying" frog discovered less than 100km from HCM City. -  Photo WWF

HA NOI (VNS) — As many as 99 new species have been found in Viet Nam, according to a World Wildlife Fund report released last Thursday.

The report, titled Natures Mysterious Mekong, which was announced to celebrate the World Environment Day on May 6, said that a total of 367 new species had been discovered in the Greater Mekong in 2012 and 2013.

The region spans Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam and China's south-western Yunnan province.

Among the species newly identified by scientists are 290 plants, 24 fish, 21 amphibians, 28 reptiles, 1 bird and 3 mammals.

"The species discoveries affirm the Greater Mekong as one of the world's richest and most biodiverse regions," said Thomas Gray, Manager of WWF-Greater Mekongs Species Programme.

In Viet Nam, scientists recently discovered Helens Flying Frog, (Rhacophorus helenae), a huge, green, "flying" frog discovered less than 100km from HCM City.

The frog can reach up to 10cm in length and belongs to a family of frog species that boast an ability to glide.

With large feet that are fully webbed and flaps of webbing on the outside of their arms, they can glide sometimes 50 feet (15 metres) down from trees to breed in forest pools, and even between trees.

The frogs spend most of their time out of human sight in the forest canopy, perhaps explaining why this distinctive new species has gone completely unnoticed until now.

To date, the frog has only been located in two patches of lowland forest surrounded by agricultural land in central Binh Thuan Province and southern Dong Nai Province.

"Lowland tropical forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world due to human activities, such as logging and degradation," said Thomas Gray, Manager of WWF-Greater Mekongs Species Programme.

While Helens Tree Frog has only just been discovered, the species, like many others, is already under threat in its fast shrinking habitat, he said.

Scientists are warning that the frog may need to be listed as a threatened species with the International Union for Conservation of Natures Red List criteria.

Among the 28 new reptiles named in the report, the white-head Burmese viper (Azemi ops kharini), a primitive viper species, was found in northern Vinh Phuc Province.

The venomous species is thought to be a primitive viper species due to it possessing an elliptically shaped, flattened head; enlarged head plates; smooth dorsal scales; folding front fangs; no heat-sensing pits and a coiled venom gland duct.

Scientists also identified the hunch-bat of Viet Nam, (Hipposideros griffin) 248m above sea level in Cat Ba Island's Cat Ba National Park in the northern region of Viet Nam, as well as in Chu Mom Ray National Park, situated on the mainland more than 1,000km to the south.

The bat was first seen in 2008 on the island, but it was not until later, after a team of researchers caught some of the bats, that it was confirmed as a previously unknown species, the report said.

Griffins leaf-nosed bat is recognised by its grotesque, fleshy nose that assists in echolocation, the sonar-like ability bats use to help them navigate.

A new penis head fish (Phallostethus cuulong), is certainly among the more bizarre discoveries to surface in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region of Viet Nam.

The fish is a newcomer to the Phallostethidae family of fish, whose thin, nearly transparent bodies are characterised by the unusual placement of their sexual organs on their heads.

The male fish's priapium (the technical name for its sexual organ) is a complex, muscular organ located underneath the fish's chin.

The female fish's genitals are also located under her throat, and unlike most fish, fertilisation for the Phallostethus cuulong takes place inside the females body. Researchers say a hook possessed by the male probably increases the success of fertilisation.

The discoveries place Viet Nam as the country with the third highest amount of new species on the list, after Thailand with 117 newly discovered species and China with 116. — VNS

GLOSSARY

As many as 99 new species have been found in Viet Nam, according to a World Wildlife Fund report released last Thursday.

A species of animal, or plant, is a type of animal or plant.

Among the species newly identified by scientists are 290 plants, 24 fish, 21 amphibians, 28 reptiles, 1 bird and 3 mammals.

Amphibians are members of the group of animals that includes frogs, newts, salamanders and similar creatures.

"The species discoveries affirm the Greater Mekong as one of the world's richest and most biodiverse regions," said Thomas Gray, Manager of WWF-Greater Mekongs Species Programme.

Affirm means to say something in a way that you really believe what you are saying, and to so do in public.

If a region is biodiverse, it has many different types of living things in it.

The frog can reach up to 10cm in length and belongs to a family of frog species that boast an ability to glide.

To glide means to fly without putting any power into your flight; to simply cruise along.

With large feet that are fully webbed and flaps of webbing on the outside of their arms, they can glide sometimes 50 feet (15 metres) down from trees to breed in forest pools, and even between trees.

Webbed feet are feet with the toes joined together by a flap of skin.

The frogs spend most of their time out of human sight in the forest canopy, perhaps explaining why this distinctive new species has gone completely unnoticed until now.

The forest canopy is the treetops.

"Lowland tropical forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world due to human activities, such as logging and degradation," said Thomas Gray, Manager of WWF-Greater Mekongs Species Programme.

An animal's habitat is where it lives best, with the correct amount of food and shelter available.

Degradation means destroying something by breaking it down.

Scientists are warning that the frog may need to be listed as a threatened species with the International Union for Conservation of Natures Red List criteria.

Criteria are points by which things are judged. In this case, if the frog is considered to have passed enough of the points it means it should be considered rare and that it would qualify for the Red List.

The venomous species is thought to be a primitive viper species due to it possessing an elliptically shaped, flattened head; enlarged head plates; smooth dorsal scales; folding front fangs; no heat-sensing pits and a coiled venom gland duct.

Venomous means poisonous.

Primitive means dating back to early history.

An elliptical shape is an oval shape.

Dorsal scales are those on the upper side of the creature.

Fangs are teeth.

A gland is an organ that gives off a chemical. A duct is a passageway for the chemical to pass through.

Griffins leaf-nosed bat is recognised by its grotesque, fleshy nose that assists in echolocation, the sonar-like ability bats use to help them navigate.

Grostesque means ugly.

Sonar is a way of working out where things are by sending out invisible sound beams that bounce back when they hit something.

The female fish's genitals are also located under her throat, and unlike most fish, fertilisation for the Phallostethus cuulong takes place inside the females body.

Genitals are sex organs.

WORKSHEET

 

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

1.       Treetops.

2.       A type of poisonous reptile.

3.       A province of China.

4.       The group of animals that frogs belong to.

5.       A creature that was first seen on Cat Ba Island six years ago.

 

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© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2014


























1. Canopy; 2. Viper; 3. Yunnan; 4. Amphibians; 5. Bat.

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