The RAP team discovered over 120 species new to science in the Muller Range which, added to the discoveries in the Nakanai Mountains, brings the total of new species discovered in Papua New Guinea last year to over 200 new species. This includes 9 new plants, two of which have already been described by the team’s senior botanist Wayne Takeuchi, 22 new vertebrates (frogs and mammals) and over 100 new insects (damselflies, ants, and orthopterans including katydids and stick insects) and spiders. See a list of all the species discovered >>
Learn more about some of these species below.
Frogs – 20 species
||Litoria sp. nov.|
Living 30 meters above the ground in the forest canopy, this large bright green frog was more often heard than seen in the Muller Range mountains, Papua New Guinea. At night males proclaimed their presence with loud, gutteral croaking sounds high above the camp much to the frustration of team herpetologists Stephen Richards and Chris Dahl. Finally, RAP's local tree-climber ascended high enough to capture and proudly deliver a handsome male. It was the only individual seen during the RAP survey and is almost certainly new to science.
||Choerophryne sp. nov.|
RAP scientist Stephen Richards traced the soft scratching call of this tiny, long nosed frog into a steep muddy gully. Small enough to sit comfortably on a thumb-nail and hidden from view under a tangle of roots in pouring rain, this undescribed frog of the genus Choerophryne nearly eluded the RAP team altogether. Its position was given away by one cricket-like call too many and this strange species subsequently turned out to be new to science.
Ants – 29 species
||Strumigenys sp. nov.|
This new species represents the highest altitude ever recorded for an ant in New Guinea – it was found at nearly 2900 m above sea level. This ant must have the ability to withstand both cold and wet conditions, as well as extremely hot and dry conditions. Their ability to survive is at least partly due to their behavior – the ants move slowly and form small colonies, and have low metabolic requirements which allow them to survive on little food for long periods of time. The amazing trap-jaw mouthparts on this ant are specialized tools for catching small, soft bodied invertebrate prey. The jaws are held open at 180 degrees and snapped closed when tiny sensory hairs detect a prey animal within range of capture.
||New genus and species|
Only two individuals were collected of this new species which represents a new genus of ants in the family Myrmicinae. The workers were found in the canopy of a fallen tree at mid-elevation. We suspect that this group of ants are arboreal – and that much remains to be learned about the arboreal ant fauna in the Muller Range. The ants that live in tree canopies are hard to reach, and therefore little studied. Because this species is unknown, and quite different from any other known genus of ants, we are currently using molecular phylogenetic techniques to determine the placement of this ant species among its closest relatives.
||Pheidole sp. nov.|
These tiny, spiny ants were common foragers on the forest floor at mid elevation in the Muller Range. The large majors have heads that are several times the size of the workers' heads. The huge mandibles are controlled by powerful muscles, which allow them to crush food that the workers bring back to the nest. This species was among the first to discover food items, such as crumbs, on the forest floor, and quickly recruited many workers and majors to carry away their bounty. The distinct spines on these beautifully shiny ants are thought to defend them against predators.
Katydids – 9-30 species
||Microsalomona sp. nov.|
This katydid that preys on insects associated with the Pandanus trees. Although its coloration looks striking, when it sits motionlessly on a leaf it resembles a pieces of debris which allows it to pounce on its prey undetected.
A new genus with four species from the Muller Range is associated with various Pandanus tree species. One species hid in the water among leaves when threatened. All four species exhibited unusual genitalic morphology.
||Mossula sp. nov.|
Five species of this genus were discovered in the Muller Range. This katydid has interesting defense mechanism – their hind legs are exceptionally large and spiny, and when threatened they hold them vertically above their head and try to jab you with the spines. Our scientists also discovered that this is very painful.
||Gressittiella sp. nov.|
Three new species of this genus were found in high elevation sites in the Muller Range. This genus includes katydids which are great moss mimics – their bodies are covered with lobes and spikes that make them disappear on tree trunks.
||Caedicia sp. nov.|
This pink-eyed katydid is restricted to the tree canopy and probably feeds on flowers of the forest's tall trees.
Plants – 9 species
Spiders – 45 species
Mammals – 2 species
Dragonflies/damselflies – 6 species