Scientists discover 18 new species of invertebrates

Scientists have discovered 18 new species of invertebrates, including spiders, snails, millipedes, earthworms and centipedes. The discoveries were made over eight days by researches for the environmental charity Earthwatch at the Mkhambathi nature reserve on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape.

But scientists have warned that the ecosystem there could be threatened by proposed developments for a toll road and titanium mining – denying them the chance to identify other species in the area.

Jan Venter, an ecologist working for Eastern Cape Parks, which manages the reserve, said the team suspects that another 18 species might be discovered.

"To get so many species in one survey shows the importance of the reserve. It's a very special area, conservation-wise. If we do another survey, we'll find just as many.".

Experts predict that the 2 million identified species on the planet could represent only 2 per cent of all those that exist. Many of these are likely to be in South Africa, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.

Michelle Hamer, a scientist at the South African National Biodiversity Institute, said: "These discoveries are important because they highlight just how little we know about our biodiversity, even in a relatively well-studied country like South Africa … many of the species we collected seem to be unique to a small area in or around Mkhambathi."

"There is also a lot of pressure to develop tourism infrastructure inside the reserve. This means that many of these species could have disappeared before even being discovered. If we understand the importance of the area in terms of its invertebrate fauna, then we can try to protect it.

"Will it make a difference … if these species go extinct? We don't know for sure, but we do know that every species that is removed … results in some weakening of the ecosystem."

The freshly discovered species are now being named and described in South African research institutes.

By: Ben Leach

A news from , 19 August 2009

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Thanks for telling us about the discovery on species of invertebrates, I really appreciate those scientists, can you help me about the information on the other animals as well.


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