Washington, Jan 5 : Scientists have discovered three previously unknown species of salamanders in La Amistad International Park on the Costa Rica-Panama border, which is Central America's biggest rain forest reserve.
Discovered last year during expeditions by Alex Monro of the Natural History Museum in London, the newly revealed amphibians include a dwarf salamander just the width of a fingernail, and a creature with colorful markings resembling a poison frog's.
According to a report in National Geographic News, the new species increase the number of known salamanders in Costa Rica to 45, which probably don't exist anywhere else in world.
"These particular species will have very small ranges," said Monro. "This area hadn't been explored, so they just weren't known before," he added.
Among the new species, the dwarf salamander measuring just 1.2 inches (3 cm), belongs to the genus Nototriton and lives in mosses and leaf litter.
The other newfound species belong to Bolitoglossa, a genus that hunts small insects at night.
One species is deep brown in color with a pale cream underside.
The other, measuring three inches (eight cm) in length, has a bright red back and yellow blotches down each side. Its prominent coloration resembles the warning markings of poison arrow frogs.
"All three creatures are very slow moving," said Monro. "But, they have this ballistic tongue that shoots out at incredible speeds and wraps around prey," he added.
According to team member Eduardo Boza, a herpetologist at the University of Costa Rica, the Bolitoglossa is the most diverse salamander group in Costa Rica, with 21 described species.
But much about the group remains mysterious.
For instance, some species are known from less than five specimens.
"They don't have lungs but breathe through their skin, and they don't live in water at any time," said Boza. "Instead of breeding aquatically, the amphibians lay eggs or give birth to live young on the forest floor," he added.
"Costa Rica is one of the best studied countries in the world at the level of herpetology, but despite this we are still describing new species," Boza told National geographic News.
"Probably there will be more new species discovered in coming trips," he added. (ANI)
© 2007 ANI
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