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Almost 400 New Species Found In Amazon Rainforest But Deforestation Threatens Discovery Of More

1 September 2017, 7:24 am EDT By Athena Chan Tech Times
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The Amazon is the world's largest rainforest, covering 1 percent of the Earth's surface. It is home to 10 percent of the world's known species.   ( New Species of Vertebrates and Plants in the Amazon 2014-2015 | Mamirauá Institute/World Wildlife Fund )

A report on the two-year study conducted on the Amazon rainforest revealed 381 newly discovered species. However, severe deforestation in the world's largest rainforest may prevent more from being discovered.

Almost 400 New Species In The Amazon

On Aug. 30, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Brazil's Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development released their report on their two-year study on the Amazon rainforest and revealed the discovery of almost 400 new animal and plant species.

Amazingly, the 2014-2015 report reveals a new species of plant or animal discovered in the Amazon every 1.9 days in the period, the highest rate of discovery yet. In comparison, 111 new species discoveries were reported each year between 1999 and 2009 with a new discovery every 3 days, and 441 new species were discovered between 2010 and 2013, with a new species discovery every 3.3 days.

In the current report, 381 new species were discovered in the 24-month period. Among them, 216 were plants, 93 were fish, 32 were amphibians, 20 were mammals though two of the discoveries were already fossilized, 19 were reptiles, and 1 was a bird. The report also includes an update on the previous 2010 to 2013 report.

Among the most interesting finds are a new species of pink river dolphins, a stingray with a honeycomb pattern, and a bird named after U.S. president Barack Obama.

"We are seeing an immense variety and richness of biodiversity. This is a signal that we still have much to learn about the Amazon," said Ricardo Mello of WWF-Brazil.

Human-Related Extinction

As promising as these finds are, severe deforestation in the area is posing a serious threat to the Amazon's wildlife. For instance, severe deforestation in the area threatens wildlife in the Amazon so much so that experts fear many species may go extinct before they are even discovered.

What's more, the report comes in the same week that the Brazilian government allowed mining in a huge protected area the size of Switzerland, a move that could be disastrous for both wildlife and the indigenous communities.

As it stands, human-related extinction is already 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate, meaning that humans cause a significantly larger amount of species extinction that goes beyond the natural order.

The wildlife in the Amazon rainforest is a particularly important piece of the Earth, as it is the largest tropical forest in the planet. It contains a third of the Earth's remaining tropical forests and is said to be the home of 10 percent of the Earth's known species.

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