Nature

Earth really is healing as species not seen for 100 years resurfaces

Discovered just 30 miles from Bolivia's capital city

While the global pandemic took 2020 in its grip last year, many of us searched for silver linings in the cleaner air, the slower pace of life, and the return of the birdsong usually hidden by traffic or construction work.

Now, it seems there is another glimmer of hope as a species not seen for 100 years has returned.

Say hello to the satyr butterfly, an endangered species famed for its distinctive orange-ringed black circular eyespots with silvery centres located on both pairs of wings.

[Credit: Jamaica Observer]

While the satyr butterfly faced extinction mainly due to habitat destruction, in particular their wetlands drained and filled for urban development, it seems they are making a comeback.

The majestic creatures were rediscovered on a recent expedition into the Bolivian jungles, only 30 miles from the capital city of La Paz.

Not only were the butterflies found to have been resurrected, but the devil-eyed frog – not seen for three decades ­– was also observed by the biodiversity team from Conservation International.

The researchers had initially embarked on a trip to scout for new species, which they did indeed find, including a never-before-seen pit viper – otherwise known as a venomous snake!

[Credit: Conservation International]

It was on their trek that they found the satyr butterfly and devil-eyed frog living happily in an area known as the Zongo Valley.

Speaking about their venture, one of the co-leaders Trond Larsen said what a captivating experience it was to be so close to the animals and see them in all of their beauty.

In particular, the ribbit-ribbit of a newly uncovered lilliputian frog – measuring in at a teeny, tiny 10mm long – is what caught his attention.

Trond said: “What’s so amazing is that you could hear the distinctive call of the little frog throughout the forest, but you get close and they stop calling.

“Trying to spot it when it’s not making a sound and is hidden in the moss was a tremendous task.”

[Credit: Conservation International]

Trond added: “This truly beautiful and diverse landscape has become a safe haven for amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, and plants that haven’t been found anywhere else on earth.”

In addition to the animals, a new species of bamboo and cup orchid were unearthed, as well as a kind of arrowroot (large herb found in rainforests) that has only been recorded once in 125 years.

The stunning discovery was not only impressive due to its rarity but also its appearance, with Trond’s crew reporting that it closed its petals at night, “like hands in prayer”.

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