Paradise Found

If only Darwin were alive to see it. Last week, scientists announced that they had discovered a biological treasure trove of never-before-seen plants and animals in the Papua province of Indonesia. New frogs, new flowers, new butterflies, even a new tree kangaroo. The team of Indonesian, American and Australian researchers were dropped by helicopter into the Foja Mountains on New Guinea island, "as close to the Garden of Eden as you're going to find on earth," in the words of team coleader Bruce Beehler of Conservation International. Over several weeks in November and December, the team discovered dozens of new species. Highlights:

1: Team member Kristofer Helgen holds a rare and critically endangered golden-mantled tree kangaroo. This jungle-dwelling mammal had never been seen in Indonesia. 2: Scientists found morethan 20 species of new frogs, including this one, which has yet to be named. 3. The long-beaked echidna, a primitive mammal, showed no fear when researchers picked it up and carried it to camp to study. The animal lays eggs, but scientists have never seen them. 4: The team found giant white rhododendrons growing high in treetops. One flower measured close to six inches, matching the largest rhododendron on record. 5. Western scientists had never before seen an adult male Berlepsch's six-wired bird of paradise. The sighting allowed them to confirm the Papua region as a breeding ground, resolving a longstanding mystery. 6: This tree frog is believed to be a new species. 7: Another variety of rhododendron. 8: Within minutes of arriving, the team encountered a new species of honeyeater. It is the first new bird species discovered on the island of New Guinea since 1939.

Paradise Found | News