Inflatable Shark and Laughing Cicada Among 300 New Species Discovered in Philippine

Posted: 06/29/2011 in all marine news

Fox News – 

A treasure trove of hundreds of new species may have been discovered in the Philippines, including a bizarre sea star that feeds exclusively on sunken driftwood and a deep-sea, shrimp-eating shark that swells up to scare off other predators.

Scientists braved leeches and a host of venomous creatures from the mountains to the sea to uncover more than 300 species that are likely new to science.

These findings include dozens of new insects and spiders, more than 50 colorful new sea slugs and a number of deep-sea armored corals “which protect themselves against predatory nibbles from fish by growing large, spiky plates,” said researcher Terrence Gosliner, dean of science and research collections at the California Academy of Sciences and leader of the 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition.

Researchers at the California Academy of Sciences and their colleagues from the University of the Philippines and the National Museum of the Philippines conducted a 42-day expedition this past spring to survey Luzon Island, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago, as well as its surrounding waters.

Working in the field is always a challenge, Gosliner noted. “We had our work both on the coral reefs and rain forest interrupted by an early typhoon; we were out of the water for two days,” he said.

“One of the biologists working in the mountains was sleeping in a hammock; during the night, one of the trees his hammock was tied to was uprooted and he was suddenly on the ground,” Gosliner added. “One researcher knelt on a venomous lionfish and later found himself on a mountain kneeling on poisonous plants.”

The hard-won result of their efforts was the most comprehensive scientific survey effort ever conducted in the Philippines.

“I have been working in the Philippines on my own research for 20 years — I thought it would be great to bring a large team of researchers together to study from mountaintops to the deep sea, to determine if all of these places harbor new species,” Gosliner said. “I was delighted that my hunch proved to be correct.”

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