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Owlscrying
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'Dementor' wasp, giant stick insect among new Mekong finds
12/31/16 at 11:44:19
 
From a soul-sucking 'dementor' wasp named after a creature from the Harry Potter books to a half-metre long stick insect, scientists identified 139 new species in the Greater Mekong Region in 2014, according to a new report.

Many of the newly-described species are already under threat from new roads and dams and the region's rapacious demand for wildlife meat and luxury timber, the WWF said in its report.

Southeast Asia has a "treasure trove" of biodiversity with an average of three new species a week being discovered in the area between 1997 and 2014, the report said.

"We've only skimmed the surface of new discoveries in the Greater Mekong," said WWF expert Thomas Gray.

But unsustainable development and the illicit trade in wildlife is taking a terrible toll and it is possible that "many species have disappeared before they were even discovered," he said.

In Thailand, a new species of wasp (ampulex dementor) was named after the soul-sucking dementors from the Harry Potter books due to its grisly hunting skills. The wasp's venom effectively turns their prey into zombies before they are then eaten alive.

In the Harry Potter novels, dementors are a creature that consumes all positive feelings and happy memories from their victims.

In neighbouring Vietnam, a stick insect that measures 54 centimetres (21 inches) long was found less than one kilometre (0.6 miles) from a village in the north of the country.

And a crocodile newt species found in Myanmar is already in demand in the international pet trade, with two of the newts being found in pet stores in Europe.

The list, dominated by plants, includes 23 reptiles, 16 amphibians, nine fish, and one mammal.

The Greater Mekong region consists of Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan.

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Owlscrying
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Re: 'Dementor' wasp, giant stick insect among new Mekong finds
Reply #1 - 12/31/16 at 11:48:41
 


The Ampulex Dementor, named after the terrifying soul-suckers from the Harry Potter movies, is one of a 139 new species discovered in Asias Mekong Delta in 2014, according to a World Widlife Fund report.

The wasp, which was discovered in Thailand, injects venom into a mass of neurons on the cockroachs belly that turns the roach into a passive zombie, according to the report. Cockroach wasp venom blocks receptors of the neurotransmitter octopamine, which is involved in the initiation of spontaneous movement. With this blocked, the cockroach is still capable of movement, but is unable to direct its own body, the report explained.

It gets worse for the wasps unfortunate victim. Once the cockroach has lost control, the wasp drags its stupefied prey by the antennae to a safe shelter to devour it," the report added.


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Re: 'Dementor' wasp, giant stick insect among new Mekong finds
Reply #2 - 12/31/16 at 12:03:54
 


Dr Jodi Rowley.

In 2011 my colleagues and I discovered and named a tiny frog from the forests of north central Vietnam, Quang's Tree Frog (Gracixalus quangi). At the same time, we discovered it had an amazingly complex call, and it became known as 'the frog that sings like a bird'.

Since then, we have continued to search for frogs in the forests of Vietnam and found that two other closely related green-blooded frogs (Gracixalus gracilipes and Gracixalus supercornutus) also have these amazing calls.

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Re: 'Dementor' wasp, giant stick insect among new Mekong finds
Reply #3 - 12/31/16 at 12:12:31
 
...

Ruby-Eyed Green Pit Viper

This snake occurs in evergreen forest, including lightly disturbed forest. Specimens from Cambodia have all been reported from sites near fast-flowing stream, often close to waterfalls, and the snake was recorded in Cat Tien near a pool. All animals have been recorded at night in dense vegetation.

Scientists collected green pit vipers from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia between 1999 and 2003 and examined them in the lab, using physical characteristics and genetics to identify new species.

"We know this species from only a few specimens, and very few people in the world have seen this snake," said study co-author Anita Malhotra, a molecular ecologist at Bangor University in the U.K. "We know very little about what it does, to be honest."

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