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GRAPPLE | With Issues and Ideas

None of Your Beeswax | Don't Sweat the Small Stuff | "Once You Start Down the Dark Path..." |
As the World Warms | Up to Speed

"ONCE YOU START DOWN THE DARK PATH . . ."


Piotr Naskrecki/Minden Pictures

Not much is known about this new variety of tube-nosed fruit bat, which hasn't even been formally named yet. It was observed in the Muller Range of Papua New Guinea by a team of researchers from Conservation International's Rapid Assessment Program in 2009. Like other fruit bats, it plays an important ecological role by dispersing seeds in its scat. And the British tabloid press has decided that it resembles Jedi Master Yoda from Star Wars.

As fruit bats reseed New Guinea's rainforests, loggers and palm-oil-plantation developers are rapidly cutting them down. That's bad news for the Yoda bat and the 200 other new species of plants and animals that the Conservation International expedition discovered in the country in just two months. Other new finds include an orange spider that represents an entirely new genus; a forest mouse with a white-tipped tail; a sharp-legged katydid that defends itself by jabbing attackers with its spiny appendages; and a spectacular white rhododendron.

All are now at risk, explains Conservation International's New Guinea director, David Mitchell: "We are far from understanding the ecological mosaic of our country, which is changing before our eyes." —Paul Rauber

NEXT: As the World Warms



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