WWF Report Reveals Mekong's 'Extra Terrestrials'

WWF Report Reveals Mekong's 'Extra Terrestrials'

A new bat named after its devilish appearance, a frog that sings like a bird and a ruby-eyed pit viper are among the 126 species newly identified by scientists in the Greater Mekong region in 2011.

Among the 10 species highlighted in the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) report, entitled Extra Terrestrial, is the aptly named Beelzebub's tube-nosed bat.

The demonic-looking creature is known only in Vietnam, depends on tropical forest for its survival and is especially vulnerable to deforestation.

In just four decades, 30% of the Greater Mekong's forests have disappeared.

"While the 2011 discoveries affirm the Mekong as a region of astonishing biodiversity, many new species are already struggling to survive in shrinking habitats," said Nick Cox, the manager of the WWF's Greater Mekong's Species Programme.

"Only by investing in nature conservation, especially protected areas, and developing greener economies, will we see these new species protected and keep alive the hope of finding other intriguing species in years to come."

A new "walking" catfish species (clarias gracilentus), discovered in freshwater streams on the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc, can move across land using its pectoral fins to stay upright while it wiggles forward with snake-like movements.

And a dazzling miniature fish (boraras naevus), just 2cm in length, was found in southern Thailand and named after the large dark blotch on its golden body. Naevus is Latin for blemish.

A new species of tree frog discovered in the high-altitude forests of northern Vietnam has a complex call that makes it sound more like a bird than a typical frog.

While most male frogs attract females with repetitive croaks, the Quang's tree frog spins a new tune each time.

No two calls are the same, and each individual mixes clicks, whistles and chirps in a unique order.