The Mekong keeps on yielding species new to science

The Mekong in Southeast Asia is one of the world’s mightiest rivers and scientists are still learning about its stunning biodiversity. In fact, hardly a week seems to go by without new discoveries along the river.

In a series of finds, according to a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature, a total of 224 species new to science have recently been identified in the region of the Mekong.

The latest finds along the Mekong, which originates in the Himalayas and empties into the South China Sea in Vietnam after a journey of nearly 4,500km, includes a newly discovered langur monkey in Myanmar, which lives on the foothills of an extinct volcano and boasts white circles around its eyes, making it look like it wears spectacles.

Among the other discoveries are a yellowish brown slug snake in the so-called Golden Triangle with unique scale patterns and a special bamboo in Laos (the first known case of succulence in bamboos), whose stem can inflate and deflate based on how much water is available to it.

In all, 155 plants, 16 fish, 17 amphibians, 35 reptiles and one mammal have been identified as species new to science in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam by hundreds of scientists from across the globe.

Daniel T Cross