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Environment

Borneo's Wild New Species: A "Ninja Slug," the World's Longest Bug, & More

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A flying frog that changes colors, a stick insect that's a foot and a half long, and a "ninja slug" that shoots "love darts." These are among the 120 new species discovered or described over the past three years on the lush island of Borneo--the Southeast Asia island divided between Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. On Earth Day, the conservation group WWF released a report on some of the recent discoveries in a 54-million-acre nature preserve known as the Heart of Borneo. WWF ecologist Adam Tomasek says that on an average, three new species were found every month.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Slugs?

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This colorful green and yellow slug species, named Ibycus rachelae, was discovered atop high mountains in the Malaysian section of Borneo. The slug has a tail three times the length of its head, and it wraps the tail around itself when it is resting.

From the Ariophantidae family, this unusual species makes use of so-called ‘love darts’ in courtship. Made of calcium carbonate, the love dart is harpoon-like which pierces and injects a hormone into a mate, and may play a role in increasing the chances of reproduction [Guardian].

Image: Peter Koomen / WWF

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The World's Longest Insect

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This giant stick insect species found in the Heart of Borneo measures almost 23 inches, making it the world's longest insect. But despite its size, very little is known about this insect, which was described for the first time in 2008. Named "Chan's megastick” after the scientist who donated the pictured specimen to the Natural History Museum in London, only three specimens of this extraordinary creature have ever been found. Image: Orang Asli / WWF

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A Flashy Serpent

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Kopstein’s Bronzeback snake, or Dendrelaphis kopsteini, is a newly discovered snake species that can grow to an impressive five feet in length. In the wild, the flashy snake lives in trees and feeds off frogs and lizards. With its bright orange, flame-like neck coloration, WWF ecologist Adam Tomasek remarked, the snake looks

"like it almost slithered through a rainbow and picked up the colors" [National Geographic].

The Kopstein's Bronzeback is an aggressive fellow with a painful bite, and when threatened it flares its neck to reveal its bright orange scales. The scientists who discovered the snake, Gernot Vogel and Johan van Rooijen, named the snake in honor of Austrian physician and herpetologist Felix Kopstein. Image: Gernot Vogel

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Overheard in the Rainforest: "How Can You Be So Lungless?"

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The amazing Bornean flat-headed frog is not a new frog on the block--scientists, in fact, discovered the species in 1978. But it's only recently that they realized that it is the world's first lungless frog. This flat frog breathes entirely through its skin, and other organs can be found in the place where lungs would normally reside. This makes the frog flatter and allows it to swim easily in the fast-flowing streams of the Kalimantan rainforest, in the Heart of Borneo. The lungless frog is currently on the Red List of Threatened Species

, and the only two habitats where it is found are threatened by pollution from mining activities. Image: David Bickford / WWF

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Flying Frog, Changing Colors

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The Mulu flying frog is a master of disguise, changing not just its skin color but also the color of its eyes. The tiny frog's skin is brown by day and a bright green hue by night. The frogs are found in a highly isolated area of the Gunung Mulu National Park in the Heart of Borneo, where they live near a small stream in the area. Researchers say that

while the minute animal may not fly with the birds, it uses its webbed feet and aerodynamic flaps of skin on the arms and legs to glide from tree to tree [LiveScience].

Image: Stefan Hertwig / WWF

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A High Altitude Orchid

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Borneo is a virtual secret garden where almost 3,000 species of exotic orchids can be found; the highest number on the planet, say experts. Just over the last three years, 51 new orchids were discovered or described on the island, with 37 new orchids found in the Heart of Borneo alone. This orchid, Thrixspermum erythrolomum, was found on the island's second highest peak, Gunung Trus Madi. Image: Peter O'Byrne / WWF

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Meet the Spectacled Flowerpecker

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For scientists walking along a rainforest canopy-walkway in the Danum Valley Conservation Area in the Heart of Borneo, the sighting of this little bird, the "Spectacled Flowerpecker," was an unexpected surprise. A scientific research station had worked in the area since 1986, but no one had ever seen this bird before. Researchers say the bird may have remained undetected for so long because it's a canopy specialist, inhabiting and feeding off fruits in the high treetops, and rarely venturing away from its habitat. The bird boasts bright white arcs above and below its eyes, which gave the species its name. Image: Richard Webster / WWF Related Content: 80beats: Photo Gallery: Ridiculously Good Photography of LIFE in All Its Glory

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DISCOVER: Darwin's Lost World

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