Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Wild Man Of Borneo Discovered

Not quite, but Borneo continues to amaze me. I hope the world doesn't destroy the legendary home of one of the great icons of my youth, the aforementioned Wild Man.

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.

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