49 Herps Discovered in Southeast Asia

June 6, 2014



The world never ceases to amaze me and in spite of man being on the planet for thousands of years, we keep discovering new species. The World Wildlife Fund released a report yesterday stating that the Greater Mekong region of Southeast Asia (Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam) is home to 367 new animal and plant species that were discovered in 2012-2013. That is a lot of flora and fauna.  Decades of strife prevented herpetological expeditions in the Mekong region until the late 1990s, the World Wildlife Fund says in their report, "Mysterious Mekong.

And to the delight of herp lovers, the discovery includes 21 new amphibian species, a new species of parachute gecko  (Ptychozoon kaengkrachanense) that extends flaps of skin on its rear and between its toes to glide from tree branch to tree branch, and a masked snake aptly named the Zorro snake for, what else, its black mask covering its eyes. In all the study lists 21 amphibians and 28 reptiles that are completely new to science.

In the event that the WWF invites you on a herping adventure to the Mekong Region of Southeast Asia, would you drop everything and go? I sure would. Below are just a few of the newly discovered reptiles and amphibians.

 

azemiops kharini

Photo Credit: Nguyen Thien Thao/WWF

White-head Burmese viper (Azemiops kharini) can be found in dense bamboo and tree-fern groves that include areas with sunlight. It can be found in leaf litter and eats mostly small rodents. It was discovered in Tam Dao Mountain, Tam Dao Village, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam..

 

Lygosoma veunsaiensis

Photo Credit: Gabor Csorba/Hungarian Natural History Museum

The rainbow lizard (Lygosoma veunsaiensis) is a new skink species that features irridescent skin that when refracted in sunlight creates a rainbow shimmer, hence the name. It was found in Cambodia's Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area in Ratanakiri Province. It has a very long tail and short stubby legs and was considered a fortunate discovery, according to the WWF because it lives most of its life below ground. 

 

Rhacophorus helenae

Photo Credit: Jodi J.L. Rowley/Australian Museum

Helen’s Flying Frog, (Rhacophorus helenae) was found less than 100 kilometers from Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. It is a large frog that grows to about 10cm in length and is known for its ability to glide. It sports fully webbed feet with flaps of webbing located on its outer arms. The WWF says it can glide up to 50 feet.

 

 

Homalopsis mereljcoxi

Photo Credit: John C. Murphy

Zorro, the masked water snake (Homalopsis mereljcoxi) features brown and cream colored bands on its body and the mask of Zorro covering its eyes. It was first discovered in Ban Badan Reservoir, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand. According to the WWF, Zorro, the masked water snake is nocturnal and feeds on small fish. 

 

Cyrtodactylus phuketensis

Photo Credit: Montri Sumontha

The zebra-striped gecko (Cyrtodactylus phuketensis) is currently found on Thailand's Phuket Island, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand. It is about 11.5cm long..

 

Ptychozoon kaengkrachanense

Photo Credit: Montri Sumontha

The skydiving gecko, or parachute gecko,(Ptychozoon kaengkrachanense) was also discovered in Thailand. It features flaps on its rear and between its toes and can glide from tree to tree in the rainforests in which it is found. It is the fifth Ptychozoon species found in Thailand and the 68th reptile species recorded in Thailand's Kaeng Krachan National Park.

 

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