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“Astonish Me” Showcases Newly Discovered Species

Add Bill Nighy to the list of actors that can narrate anything. The WWF (no not that one) created this enchanting big budget short to illustrate how much we still don’t know about our own planet.

1. Pygmy Sloth

Bryson Voirin / AP

This sloth species lives on a single island, the Isla Escudo de Veraguas off the Caribbean coast of Panama. With an adult size of only about 50 cm long and weighing a mere 3.5 kg, this is significantly smaller than its mainland relatives. Unlike other sloths which tend to live in rainforests, this species is known exclusively in the red mangrove forests that surround the island at close to sea level. The global population is assumed to be less than 500 individuals and, as a result, it’s classified as Critically Endangered.

2. Kopstein’s Bronzeback

Gernot Vogel / AP

A beautiful-looking snake that can grow to an impressive 1.5 metres in length and flares its neck when threatened, revealing bright orange colouration. Found in the rainforests of SE Asia, they live in trees and feed on a diet of small prey such as frogs and lizards. Like most Dendrelaphis species, the Kopstein’s bronzeback has an aggressive disposition with a painful bite

3. Varanus Macraei

Lutz Obelgonne / AP

Monitor lizards, including the fearsome Komodo dragon, belong to a large group that live across large areas of the tropics. Despite their size, new species are still being discovered, including three new species found on tiny islands off the Vogelkop (Bird’s Head) Peninsula of Indonesian Papua. Probably the most spectacular is Varanus macraei, found on the island of Batanta and only described in 2001. Reaching a metre in length, this beautiful lizard is black with a striking pattern of turquoise and blue on its head and body.

4. The Chan’s Megastick

Min Sheng Khoo / AP

The longest insect in the world, the Chan’s Megastick, found in the forests of Borneo, was only described by science in 2008. Over half a metre long and living high in the forest canopy, only three specimens of this elusive creature have ever been found.

Read about the rest of the animals featured in the video on the WWF (no, not that one) website.

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