Deep in the jungle, a Lost City in Honduras harbours brand new species and animals long-thought extinct

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Around the ruins and dense rainforest of a mysterious “lost city” in Honduras, researchers have discovered a treasure trove of biodiversity, including numerous species once thought to be extinct and others previously unknown to science.

A recent expedition headed deep into a previously unexplored corner of the forest around Ciudad Blanca, in La Mosquitia, Honduras.

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Brand New Species And Animals Long-Thought Extinct Found Near “Lost City” In Honduras. Picture credit: Wildlife Conservation Society, Zamorano University, Honduran Forest Conservation Institute, Travis King, John Polisar, Manfredo Turcio

Their biological assessment documented 246 species of butterflies and moths, 30 bats, 57 amphibians and reptiles, as well as numerous fish, mammals, and insects.

New and rediscovered species

At least 22 of these species had never been recorded in Honduras before.

RAP Honduras 2017. A pair of Great Curassow walking down the path looking for fruit. © John van Dort

Most exciting of all, the team “rediscovered” three species long assumed to be locally extinct: the pale-faced bat (below), which had not been reported in Honduras for more than 75 years; the false tree coral snake, which had not been reported in Honduras since 1965; and a type of tiger beetle (Odontochila nicaraguense), which was thought to be endemic to Nicaragua and thus was believed to be totally extinct.

Lost City of the Monkey Gog

The Mosquitia rainforest is home to many ruins of ancient settlements, and researchers believe some of these could be the legendary “Lost City of the Monkey God” or the fabled “White City”.

It was once thought that this settlement was a myth dreamed up by conquistadors in the 16th century, however, archaeological surveys over the past decade claim to have found the mysterious lost city. Other researchers remain doubtful that we have truly discovered the much-hyped “White City”.

But what is undoubtedly true is the incredible range of biodiversity being discovered in the area.

The Pale-faced Bat (Phylloderma stenops). © Trond Larsen

One of the most pristine rainforest

Regardless of the archaeological debate, the region remains one of the most undisturbed rainforests in Central America.

A species of worm salamander (Oedipina quadra). © Trond Larsen

But still, the 3-week expedition was under the watch of armed guards, partially for fear of wild predators, like jaguars and pumas, but also because the area is known to be used by drug traffickers.

This presence has also raised fears of illegal cattle ranching, loggers, and poachers in the area, which could put this delicate ecosystem at risk.

Government push and help

Partially thanks to these new scientific findings, President Juan Orlando Hernández has initiated the Kaha Kamasa Foundation to promote ongoing scientific research and help the government develop strategies for protecting this truly invaluable region.

A male Harlequin beetle (Acrocinus longimanus) sits a the base of a tree. © Trond Larsen

We have been doing field work in the indigenous territories of La Moskitia for 14 years, and this site stood out as being simply gorgeous. However, what really made it leap out was its very complete assemblage of native large mammals, something becoming all too rare in these regions,said Dr John Polisar, Coordinator of the Wildlife Conservation Society Jaguar Program.

Because of its presently intact forests and fauna the area is of exceptionally high conservation value. It merits energetic and vigilant protection so its beauty and wildlife persist into the future…

Well hopefully this pristine rainforest with an amazing biodiversity will last long. We need such green places full of animals, plants and mystery.

[Conservation 1, Conservation 2, IFLS]

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