May 17, 2010

Blossom Bats and Woolly Rats and Frogs That Inflate Their Nose — Oh My!

by Heather Falconer

Let’s face it — in this day and age it can be pretty hard to be surprised. Decades of video games and thriller books and movies have left us a little desensitized. We’re pretty sure we’ve seen it all. That’s why it’s especially refreshing when new discoveries are verified that rival some of the best fiction out there.

In Indonesia, scientists have identified a hot spot for biodiversity. Originally discovered in 2008, the incredible variety of species in this area have been independently verified. Included in the mix are a bat that feeds only on the nectar of rain forest flowers, a giant woolly rat, the world’s smallest wallaby, and a frog that calls to mates by inflating its nose, rather than its throat.

According to Conservation International (as reported by CNN), the 300,000 square hectares of pristine rain forest are “a profound species generator” and a “critical carbon-sink for the planet.” (Indonesia was also recently in the news for being the home of a new species of Monitor Lizard, discovered outside of a small village in the Philippines.)

These new discoveries serve as a great reminder that there is still so much to learn about this planet and the species that live on it. With a little luck, this surge of discovery in Indonesia will help to protect some of the more delicate ecosystems for posterity. It might even help us learn a little more about ourselves!

Have you been talking about biodiversity and unique species in your classrooms? Tell us about it!

Heather Falconer

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Heather Falconer holds undergraduate degrees in Graphic Arts and Environmental Science, as well as an MFA in Writing and an MLitt in Literature. She is currently completing her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition, with an emphasis on rhetoric in/and/of science. Heather has worked internationally in academic publishing as both an author and editor, and has taught a wide range of topics – from research writing to marine biology – in the public and private educational sectors.