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Flying Squirrel, Rainbow Lizard Among 367 New Species Discovered in the Greater Mekong

A giant flying squirrel, a bright green frog, a rainbow lizard and small bird are among 367 new species revealed by scientists in the Greater Mekong region in 2012-2013. WWF’s Mysterious Mekong report highlights 15 of the species including a squirrel with distinctive red and white fur and a warbler hiding in plain sight in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

The Greater Mekong region is home to a vast variety of wildlife and spectacular natural landscapes. More than 1,300 new species have been cataloged in the region since 1997. WWF helps promote sustainable forestry and maintain the health of rivers and tributaries to protect species and people in the area.

Take a look at a few of the recently discovered critters:

  • tailorbird in tree

    Cambodian Tailorbird

    In 2013, the Cambodian Tailorbird (Orthotomus chaktomuk), a small, light and dark grey bird, with an orange-red tuft on its head, was described by scientists hiding in plain sight in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. The species is likely confined to dense shrub habitat in the floodplain of the Mekong river on the edge of Phnom Penh, allowing it to remain undetected for so long despite living on the outskirts of a major city.

  • giant green frog

    Helen’s Flying Frog

    Helen’s Flying Frog, Rhacophorus helenae, a huge, green, “flying” frog was discovered less than 100km from Ho Chi Minh City, an urban center with over 9 million people. Helen’s Flying Frog can grow to almost 10 centimeters in length and belongs to the group of frogs that have the greatest ability to glide.

  • Rainbow Lizard

    Rainbow Lizard

    This species was discovered in a remote rainforest of Cambodia, by a Fauna and Flora International herpetologist, Neang Thy. Lygosoma veunsaiensis is a new type of skink with several distinct characteristics including its iridescent skin, which is a result of the way its scales refract sunlight to create a rainbow-like shimmer.

  • flying squirrel

    Laotian Giant Flying Squirrel

    A new species of flying squirrel was described in 2013 from Laos. This arboreal species with red and white fur is the second member of the genus Biswamoyopterus to be discovered by scientists.

  • zebra lizard

    Zebra-striped lizard

    This zebra-striped species is roughly 11.5 centimeters long. The decorative gecko is currently known only from Khao Phra Thaeo Non-hunting Area, Phuket Island, southwestern Thailand.

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