'Laughing' insects among new Philippine species

Jun 08, 2011 by Mynardo Macaraig
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.

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.

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 .

"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 to confirm if it was a new species.

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.

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 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.

Explore further: Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New species of sea slug discovered

Sep 22, 2010

Sometimes, treasures can be found in your own backyard -- especially if you know what to look for. This is what happened to Jeff Goddard, project scientist with the Marine Science Institute at UC Santa Barbara.

Laos said to harbor many new frog species

Apr 20, 2006

The Wildlife Conservation Society in New York says new species of frogs -- and lots of them -- are being discovered in the Southeast Asia nation of Laos.

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

44 minutes ago

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

18 hours ago

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

20 hours ago

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

20 hours ago

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sinister1811
1.5 / 5 (8) Jun 09, 2011
Amazing. But it's disappointing that they've only released two photos of what they've found. I would have loved to have seen more of this marine biodiversity. Especially more about this intriguing "cat shark". I've googled for about 10 minutes and can't find a photo of it anywhere.

More news stories

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...