Scientists discover 52 new species on the island of Borneo

Over the last 17 months, scientists have identified 52 new plant and animal species in the rainforests of Borneo, a Southeast Asian island, the World Wildlife Fund announced yesterday. The finds include 30 unique species of fish, two tree-frog species, three new trees, a plant that grows only a single large leaf, 16 types of ginger, and a partridge in a pear tree. The world’s second-smallest vertebrate — a fish 0.35 inches long — was discovered, as well as a catfish with an adhesive belly and protruding teeth. (Alas, the legendary Wild Man remains elusive.) No wonder Charles Dickens described Borneo as a “great wild untidy luxuriant hothouse made by Nature for herself.” As always, the diverse habitat is threatened by human activity; only half of Borneo’s original forest cover remains, thanks to deforestation for rubber, palm oil, and paper pulp production. And we had been so optimistic there for a moment.