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Cindy Maddera

Knock knock. Who’s there? Land Shark. Ahhhhh! This old SNL skit may no longer be a joke. Researchers have discovered a new species of shark that can walk on its fins. The researchers have discovered dozens of new species in the Papua province of Indonesia including a shrimp that looks like a praying mantis and scores of new kinds of coral.

The area is known as Bird’s Head Escape and is in danger from fisherman who use dynamite and cyanide to catch fish. Researchers with Conservation International are trying to get the Indonesian government to do more to protect this area. They have discovered 24 new species of fish, 20 new species of coral and eight new species of shrimp.

That’s just in the water. Researchers at a survey sites a few hundred miles from Bird’s Head have found 20 new species of frogs, four new butterfly species and at least five new palms. They have also come across the Long Beaked Echidna. It’s a rare egg-laying mammal sort of like a platypus.

It’s hard to believe that so many new and diverse species can still be discovered. Only about 11% of a 70,000 mile area is currently under protection. That’s pretty sad when you consider that this area contains 75% of the world’s species of reef-building coral.