'Lost world' found here in SE Asia
High up in Indonesia's mountain rainforests, scientists have discovered an astonishing, mist-shrouded "lost world" that includes animals and plants never seen by man before.
"It is as close to the Garden of Eden as you are going to find on earth," said Mr Bruce Beehler, co-leader of a group of international scientists who were dropped by helicopter at Foja Mountains in Indonesian New Guinea.
In a jungle site that was surrounded by giant flowers and strange mammals that had never seen humans before, the scientists watched almost daily wonders unfold before their eyes for a month.
They saw the rare male bowerbird — believed to be the most evolved of birds — attracting females with large extravagant nests. They spotted tree kangaroos, which were previously thought to have been hunted to near-extinction.
They also discovered five new species of palm and a white flower, 15cm across, that may be the world's largest rhododendron.
"We found dozens, if not hundreds, of new species in what is probably the most pristine ecosystem in the whole Asia-Pacific region," said Mr Beehler. "There were so many new things that it was almost overwhelming," he added.
The scientists hope to return later this year to the area that sprawls across 300,000 hectares.
Meanwhile, they still haven't finished categorising their discoveries which, they said, were new even to members of the local indigenous groups who traditionally own the forest. "The men from the local villages came with us and they made it clear that even their ancestors had never been near this area," said Mr Beehler.
They found giant butterflies with wingspans of up to 18cm. Some 20 new species of frog, including a tiny one that grows to just 14mm, were also discovered.
The six-wired bird of paradise, never before observed by scientists, merrily performed its courtship rituals while the team gaped.
The almost unknown spiny anteater allowed itself to be picked up and taken to the camp to be studied. "What was amazing was the lack of wariness of all the animals,"
said Mr Beehler. This suggested they had never encountered humans before.
"This is a place with no roads or trails and never, so far as we know, visited by man," he added. "This proves there are still places to be discovered that man has not touched." – Agencies.
Article courtesty from Today Online. Ref URL: http://www.todayonline.com/articles/99831.asp