We are constantly bombarded with information of animal populations decreasing, and ultimately ceasing to exist. Although this alarming reality is sadly reported in the media at a higher frequency, every so often we do hear good news about the biodiversity of our planet.
Professor S. D. Biju of Delhi University has led 20 years worth of research in the rainforests of India's Western Ghats. During Professor Biji’s research on the frog genus Nyctibatrachus, 12 new species were discovered and 3 species were rediscovered after they were believed to be extinct. The rediscovered Coorg Night Frog (N. sanctipalustris) was last seen 91 years ago, the Kempholey Night Frog (N. kempholeyensis) was last seen 75 years ago and the Forest Night Frog (N. sylvaticus) was last seen 52 years ago.
Some really exciting news for cetacean fans; a new species of bottle nose dolphin has been discovered in Victoria, Australia. PhD researcher Kate Charlton-Robb has confirmed the new species (Tursiops australis) by using DNA anaylsis, examining skulls and noting differences in appearance from extant dolphins and museum specimens. T. australis has a different cranial structure and a smaller skull and beak than the common bottlenose dolphin. Currently, only two resident populations are believed to exist with approximately 100 found in Port Phillip Bay and 50 in the Gippsland Lakes.
Twitchers will be glad to know they can confirm any sightings of the Italian sparrow as a new species to tick off their list. The Italian sparrow has always thought to have been a hybrid between the Spanish sparrow and the house sparrow. Until now, their existence as a separate species has not been confirmed by science. Dr. Glenn-Peter Saetre from the University of Oslo has proved the Italian sparrow has its own distinct genetic make-up and is no longer breeding with the Spanish sparrow, presenting a rare speciation event to the scientific community.
These discoveries have only been made over the past month, proving that it’s not all doom and gloom out there and that the planet is still home to an array of intriguing species.
By Haley Dolton