New Guinea's biological diversity

Scientists have discovered more than 1,000 new species in one the most biologically diverse areas on earth.

Some 1,060 new species were discovered on the island of New Guinea between 1998 and 2008, it has been announced - yet development from logging and conversion of the forests to agricultural land use is putting many of these distinctive species at risk of extinction.

"Despite its remote location, New Guinea's natural habitats are being lost at an alarming rate," says Dr Eric Verheij, Conservation Director of WWF Western Melanesia.

"The island's forests are facing serious threats including logging, mining, wildlife trade and conversion to agriculture, particularly oil palm."

The perplexing island covers less than one per cent of the earth's landmass, but houses six to eight per cent of the world's biological species. In addition, more than two thirds of these species are found nowhere else on earth.

Among the animals discovered are 580 invertebrates, 134 amphibians, two birds and 71 fish, including an extremely rare 2.5m river shark.