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Blogger Profile

David Manly
Freelance Science Journalist
Toronto Ontario CAN

David Manly is a freelance journalist who will blog about a wide range of topics that all fall under the umbrella of zoology and ecology. While his expertise lies with reptiles and amphibians, he has a wide array of knowledge and interest in all animal species - from the sponge to the great ape. He hopes you will enjoy his blog, as he plans to make it both entertaining and enjoyable (as well as fill it with interesting facts, tidbits, photos and videos).

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

It may have been a while since my last post, but man do I have some good stuff to share with you!

Earlier this month, Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) selected the 20 most unique species that the program has found. According to the release, the species shown in the pictures below are "some of the most biologically surprising, unique, or threatened discoveries" ever found.

During the past twenty years, RAP programs have completed an incredible 80 surveys in 27 countries, and usually walked away with a new discovery or two. However, the sad part is that most of these amazing animals are already endangered and/or at risk from pollution, habitat loss, climate change and other human-caused problems.

Of the 20 animals listed, only seven had been previously known to science, but all will hopefully benefit from increased education, protection and involvement by CI and other environmental groups.

It may be too late for some species, but some can be protected. And after looking through the sheer variety of animals on this list, how could you not want to protect such amazing diversity?

I will highlight five of the most interesting species here, but I highly encourage you to

View the entire list online here, or in an exquisite slideshow that can be found here.


First off is the nocturnal Satanic Leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus phantasticus) of Madagascar, whose biggest threat is the illegal pet trade and deforestation. According to the CI, large members of this species have more teeth than any other living terrestrial vertebrate. I can’t help but be mesmerized by its coloration.

(© Piotr Naskrecki, Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program)

Discovered in 2008 in Indonesia, the Pinocchio frog (Litoria sp. nov) has a long, Pinocchio-like protrusion on its nose that points up when the male is calling but points downwards the rest of the time. In fact, its discovery was a happy accident, as herpetologist Paul Oliver spotted it sitting on a bag of rice in the campsite.

(© Tim Laman, Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program)

Discovered in Papua New Guinea in 2008, the large green tree frog (Nyctimystes sp.) has some of the most striking eyes I have EVER seen. Wouldn’t you agree?

(© Conservation International/ photo by Stephen Richards)

While not new to science, I mean just take a look at the Emperor scorpion (Pandinus imperator) of Ghana from 2006. It is eight inches long, so it ranks among one of the largest scorpions in the world, but only feeds on termites and other small invertebrates. Thankfully, its venom is not lethal to humans, or I know a lot of people that would have nightmares of this guy.

(© Piotr Naskrecki, Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program)

Behold the Atewa dinospider (Ricinoides atewa) that was discovered in 2006 in Ghana, along with the emperor scorpion. This ancient animal belongs to a group of arachnids that have remained unchanged for nearly 300 million years, but at only 11 millimeters long, it only poses a threat to termite and ant larvae. The individuals who discovered this species noticed that the males have their reproductive organs on their legs.

(© Piotr Naskrecki, Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program)

These were only a selection of the amazing animals that CI's Rapid Assessment Program discovered in the past twenty years. It just goes to show you that as much as we humans think we know everything about life that lives on this planet, there are still a lot more to discover.

The only question is – will we be able to find and save them before they disappear forever?


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That Satanic Gecko is awesome. People capture him for pets?

So many amazing creatures in our world.

Dub C Med School
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That is the bluest Emperor Scorpion I've ever seen.

David Manly
Freelance Science Journalist
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@Jade - The natural world is just amazing, isn't it?
Yeah, apparently the illegal pet trade is DECIMATING its numbers (which weren't very high to begin with). Add that to climate change and deforestation ....

@JaySeeDub - How many Emperor Scorpions have you seen?

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How do you get one of those? ....just kidding :-)


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