Saturday, March 28, 2009

Exotic New Orchids Discovered in New Guinea

October 18, 2006—With a blossom that looks a little like a snarling face, this newly discovered species of orchid is beautiful even when it's angry.

Scientists from the conservation nonprofit WWF discovered the flower, along with at least seven other new species of orchid, in the tropical rain forests of Papua New Guinea.

The researchers made the discoveries while surveying previously unexplored forests in the Kikori region on the southern coast of New Guinea's principal island

Over the course of three expeditions, the scientists collected some 300 orchid species, 8 of which have been confirmed as new to science, with 20 more still awaiting verification as new varieties.

Even before the find, Papua New Guinea claimed more known orchid species than any other country in the world.

"The island of New Guinea is an incredible gold mine of orchids," said Wayne Harris, a WWF researcher and botanist with Australia's Queensland Herbarium, in a statement on October 16.

"There are over 3,000 known species found here with countless varieties undoubtedly yet to be discovered."

WWF announced the find a week before the official launch of new wildlife management areas in Kikori, which will aim to protect the rain forests where the flowers were found.

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