On an expedition to one of Asia's most isolated jungles in the misty Foja Mountains of western New Guinea, scientists uncovered a vast trove of new species, giant flowers and rare wildlife. The December 2005 voyage revealed nearly two dozen previously unknown species of frogs, four new butterflies, what may be the largest rhododendron flower on record (at nearly six inches across), and a novel breed of honeyeater, the first new bird discovered on the island in almost 70 years. Also seen were the golden-mantled tree kangaroo, formerly known from only a single mountain in neighboring Papua New Guinea, and little-known long-beaked echidnas, a primitive egg-laying mammal. These discoveries suggest the nearly 2.5 million acres of the Foja jungle could be the largest essentially pristine tropical forest in Asia, announced expedition co-sponsor Conservation International on February 7.
Charles Q. Choi
Charles Q. Choi is a frequent contributor to Scientific American. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Science, Nature, Wired, and LiveScience, among others. In his spare time, he has traveled to all seven continents.