20 December 2016 Current Affairs: The World Wildlife Fund reports that a group of researchers discovered 163 new species in the Greater Mekong region.
A rainbow-headed snake, a dragon-like lizard and a newt that looks like a Klingon from Star Trek were among the 163 new species that were found in the region. In all, 9 amphibians, 11 fish, 14 reptiles, 126 plants and 3 mammals were described for the first time. Scientists also discovered a rare banana species from Thailand.
Between 1997 and 2015, there have been 2409 new species discovered in the Greater Mekong. This adds to the over 430 mammal species, 800 reptiles and amphibians, 1200 birds, 1100 fish and 20000 plant species already known to science.
Greater Mekong region : The Greater Mekong is an international region of the Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia.
It holds irreplaceable natural and cultural riches and is considered one of the world's most significant biodiversity hotspot.
The region has a diverse geographic landscape including massifs, plateaus, limestone karsts, lowlands, fertile floodplains and deltas, forests and grasslands.
It encapsulates 16 of the WWF Global 200 ecoregions and habitats for an estimated 20000 plant species, 1300 fish species, 1200 bird species, 800 reptile and amphibian species, and 430 mammal species.
The region's biodiversity is ranked as a top-five most threatened hotspot by Conservation International. The WWF also states that the region is particularly vulnerable to global climate change.