'Laughing' insects among new Philippine species
Published : Jun 9, 2011 - 10:58
Updated : Jun 9, 2011 - 10:58

MANILA (AFP) – Laughing cicadas and small "cat sharks" are among scores of species believed new to science discovered by US and Filipino researchers in waters and islands of the Philippines, the team said Wednesday.

Picture provided by California Academy of Sciences This picture provided by California Academy of Sciences shows species of starfish found by a team of US and Filipino researchers in waters and islands of the Philippines. Laughing cicadas and small "cat sharks" are among scores of species believed new to science discovered by US and Filipino researchers in waters and islands of the Philippines. (AFP-Yonhap News)

The finds showcased the vast biodiversity of the Southeast Asian archipelago that is now under severe threat, said the experts from the California Academy of Sciences and local institutions.

The team found a rich harvest of starfish, sea urchins, eels and barnacles, many of which had not been previously documented by scientists, said Richard Mooi, one of the California marine scientists.

"We found at least 75 new species, perhaps more. A lot more analysis is needed," he told a forum to announce the discoveries.

"Unquestionably, we found 20 new species of starfish and sea urchins alone," Mooi added.

Fellow academy scientist John McCosker said they discovered several small "cat sharks" with brown backs and having dark stripes and white bellies, colours which he had never seen on any other shark before.

Picked up by a trawler net 2,000 metres (6,600 feet) below the waves, the sharks are about 60 centimetres (two feet) long and feed on shrimp, said McCosker, head of the aquatic biology department.

Detailing other finds, California Academy dean Terry Gosliner said: "We found one new species of eel, possibly a new species of pipe fish, new species of barnacles, new species of nudibranch (shell-less) mollusks."

Among the other unusual discoveries, Filipino entomologist Ireneo Lit said his team believed they had found several new species, including a cicada that made a sound like high-pitched laughter.

"The local residents were afraid of them. They thought the laughter was from dwarves, laughing dwarves," he told AFP of the insect found on 2,158-metre Mount Banahaw, a volcano on the main island of Luzon.

Lit, director of a national history museum at the University of the Philippines, said he would contact a colleague in France's Paris Museum of Natural History to confirm if it was a new species.

The expedition had trawled the depths of the waters off Batangas province and Taal Lake south of Manila.

It also took samples of fauna from Banahaw and other mountains on Luzon, where the scientists found three possible new species of spiders, said American spider expert Charles Griswold.

It would take several months of laboratory work to confirm if the finds were all truly new species but the large number of experts involved could easily tell if they had really found something new, Mooi said.

Edgardo Gomez, a professor of the University of the Philippines' Marine Science Institute, said some of the marine finds would have been under threat of extinction.

"Philippine marine biodiversity is under siege," Gomez told the forum.

He cited damage caused both by pollution and overfishing and climate change.

Theresa Mundita Lim, head of the environment ministry's Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, warned some species could become extinct before they are even documented.

"The research on biodiversity is not at pace with the threats. The threats are more numerous," she added.



웃음 소리 내는 매미를 아시나요

웃음 소리를 내는 매미와 작은 괭이상어 등 지금까지 알 려지지 않은 수십종의 생물들이 필리핀 열도와 주변 해역에서 발견됐다고 연구자들 이 8일 밝혔다.

미국 캘리포니아 과학 아카데미와 필리핀 합동 연구진은 불가사리와 성게, 뱀장어, 따개비 등 새로운 다양한 종류가 탐사 결과 확인됐다고 말했다.

캘리포니아 과학아카데미 해양학자인 리처드 무이는 "최소한 75종의 새로운  종 류가 확인됐으며 이보다 더 많을 수도 있다"면서 "추가 분석이 필요하다"고 밝혔다.

그는 특히 "20종의 새로운 불가사리와 성게 종류가 발견됐다"고 덧붙였다.

캘리포니아 과학 아카데미의 해양생물부장 존 매코스커는 갈색 등과 짙은  줄무 늬의 하얀 배를 갖고 있는 몇몇 괭이상어 신종도 발견됐다고 밝혔다.

이들 괭이상어는 해수면 아래 2천m 수심에서 트롤선에 포획된 것으로 길이  60

㎝ 정도 크기며 새우를 잡아먹고 산다고 매코스커는 말했다.

필리핀 곤충학자 이레네오 리트는 이번에 새로 발견된 매미가 고음역대의  날카 로운 웃음소리를 내 현지 주민들은 이 소리를 난쟁이들이 내는 웃음소리로 생각하며 두려움을 지니고 있다고 전했다.

이번 탐사결과는 동남아시아 섬 군락 생태계의 엄청난 다양성을 보여준다고  연 구진은 말했다. (연합뉴스)