Google Earth helps scientists find several new species

Posted by Nino Marchetti

Chicago (IL) - More information has now surfaced about findings from a recent expedition to a previously hidden forest in Mozambique - which was discovered by scientists searching through Google Earth's aerial views. Included in their findings are newly discovered species of butterflies, snakes, along with seven threatened bird species, plants and insects.





BirdLife International, a partnership of conservation organizations focused on preventing birds from going extinct, took part in an expedition last fall to the locally known, but unmapped, Mount Mabu. BirdLife said scientists ended up taking this trip after finding a road on Google Earth which helped point the way to a wooded mountain topped by bare rock. The other side of this mountain, seen through Google Earth, showed just how much woodland was actually there.



The expedition was led by RBG Kew and involved scientists from the Mozambique Agronomic Research Institute and the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust in Malawi, as well as those from BirdLife International. Non-bird species found included three new species of butterfly and a previously undiscovered species of adder. It is also believed there "are at least two novel species of plant and perhaps more new insects to identify."



Birds found include the Thyolo Alethe Alethe choloensis, Swynnerton's Robin Swynnertonia swynnertoni and Namuli Apalis Apalis lynesi. Scientists returning from this expedition and recent others hope the future use of Google Earth will reveal further unnoticed pockets of diversity, especially in areas like Mozambique or Papua New Guinea.