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Science & Tech

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A chocolate-colored frog dubbed the “cocoa frog,” which may be new to science, is among 60 animal species discovered during research in Suriname.

60 possibly new species found in Suriname

Associated Press photos
A potentially new species of head-and-taillight tetra was among the discoveries in a Suriname rain forest.

– Braving perilous river rapids in Suriname’s rainforest, international scientists found six frogs and 11 fish that are among 60 creatures that may be new species, a tropical ecologist with a U.S.-based conservation group said Thursday.

Trond Larsen, with the nonprofit research and advocacy organization Conservation International, said in a phone interview that the team catalogued creatures and studied freshwater resources during a three-week expedition in pristine forest of southeast Suriname near the border with Brazil.

The upper Palumeu River watershed is among the world’s most remote and unexplored rain forests, the Arlington, Va., group said. It has worked for years in Suriname, a sparsely populated country of 63,000 square miles on the north shoulder of South America.

The creatures that could be new to science include a brown tree frog dubbed the “cocoa frog” and a type of poison dart frog, which secretes powerful toxins employed by local people for hunting.

Scientists also catalogued a potentially new type of colorful tetra fish, an unusually pigmented catfish and nine other types of fish after dragging nets through waterways. A 2.3-millimeter (less than an inch) reddish dung beetle that may be the second smallest in South America was among apparently previously unknown insects found.

The research team collected data on 1,378 species of plants, birds, mammals, insects, fish and amphibians. The scientists were supported by 30 indigenous men who helped maneuver supply-laden boats through raging rivers and guided them through the forests.

Researchers found high-quality water conditions in the region they studied, but some of their samples had mercury above safe levels for drinking even though there was apparently no upstream mining. Larsen said he believes the mercury is blowing in from mining and industrial activities in neighboring nations.

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