A lungless frog, a frog that flies and a slug that shoots love darts are among 123 new species found in Borneo since 2007 in a project to conserve one of the oldest rain forests in the world.
A report by the conservation group WWF on the discoveries calls for protection of the threatened species and the equatorial rain forest on Borneo, the world’s third-largest island, shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.
“The challenge is to ensure that these precious landscapes are still intact for future generations,” says the report, released on Thursday.
The search for the new species was part of the Heart of Borneo project that started in February 2007 and is backed by the WWF and the three countries that share the island.
The aim is to conserve 220,000 square kilometers of rain forest described by Charles Darwin as “one great luxuriant hothouse made by nature for herself.”
Explorers have been visiting Borneo for centuries, but vast tracts of its interior are yet to be biologically explored.
Adam Tomasek, leader of WWF’s Heart of Borneo project, said: “If this stretch of irreplaceable rain forest can be conserved for our children, the promise of more discoveries must be a tantalizing one for the next generation of researchers to contemplate.”
The scientists’ discoveries include the world’s longest known stick insect, at 56.7 centimeters, a flame-colored snake and a frog that flies and changes its skin and eye color.
In total, 67 plants, 29 invertebrates, 17 fish, five frogs, three snakes, two lizards and a new species of bird were discovered, the report says.
Borneo has long been known as a hub for monster insects, including giant cockroaches.
Notable among the species discovered are:
•A snake that has bright orange, almost flame-like, neck coloration that gradually fuses into an extraordinary iridescent and vivid blue, green and brown pattern. When threatened, it flares its nape, revealing bright orange colors;
•A frog that breathes through its skin because it has no lungs, which makes it appear flat. This aerodynamic shape allows the frog to move swiftly in fast-flowing streams. Although the species was discovered in 1978, scientists only recently found it has no lungs; and
•A high-altitude slug found on Mount Kinabalu that has a tail three times the length of its head. It shoot calcium carbonate “love darts” during courtship to inject a hormone into a mate. While resting, the slug wraps its long tail around its body.
The Heart of Borneo, which is the core island area the conservation effort targets, is home to 10 species of primates, more than 350 types of birds, 150 reptiles and amphibians and a staggering 10,000 plants that are found nowhere else in the world, the report says.