Vast tracts of Borneo yet to be biologically explored

A lungless frog, a frog that flies and a slug that shoots love darts are among 123 new species found in Borneo since 2007 in a project to conserve one of the oldest rain forests in the world.

A report by the global conservation group WWF on the discoveries also calls for protecting the threatened species and equatorial rain forest on Borneo, the South China Sea island that is the world's third-largest and is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. The aim is to conserve 220,000 sq. km. of rain forest that was described by Charles Darwin as “one great luxuriant hothouse made by nature for herself”.

Explorers have been visiting Borneo for centuries, but vast tracts of its interior are yet to be biologically explored, said Adam Tomasek, leader of WWF's Heart of Borneo project.

The scientists' discoveries include the world's longest known stick insect at 56.7 cm, a flame-coloured snake and a frog that flies and changes its skin and eye colour. In total, 67 plants, 29 invertebrates, 17 fish, five frogs, three snakes and two lizards and a brand new species of bird were discovered, said the report.

Notable among the species discovered are: a snake that has a bright orange, almost flame-like, neck coloration that gradually fuses into an extraordinary iridescent and vivid blue, green and brown pattern. When threatened it flares its nape, revealing bright orange colours;

A frog that breathes through its skin because it has no lungs, which makes it appear flat. This aerodynamic shape allows the frogs to move swiftly in fast flowing streams. Though the species was discovered in 1978, it was only now that scientists found the frog has no lungs.

A high-altitude slug found on Mount Kinabalu that has a tail three times the length of its head. They shoot calcium carbonate “love darts” during courtship to inject a hormone into a mate. While resting, the slug wraps its long tail around its body.