New Pangolin Species Discovered: A Glimmer of Hope and a Wake-Up Call
Unveiling the Ninth Pangolin Species
Adding to the eight known species of pangolins, scientists have discovered a ninth variety of this endangered mammal. This groundbreaking discovery was made while analysing scales confiscated during anti-trafficking operations. Previously, the scientific community acknowledged four species each in Asia and Africa, but this recent finding challenges the long-standing belief.
Pangolins have been under threat due to their scales, used in traditional medicine, and their meat, considered a delicacy in some regions. From 2004 to 2014, it is estimated that over a million pangolins were poached, leading to an international trade ban on this species in 2016.
Manis Mysteria: The Hidden Pangolin
The newly identified pangolin species emerged from a detailed study of scales seized in China’s Yunnan province in 2015 and 2019. Researchers compared the genomic data from these scales with genomes from all other known species, revealing a lineage distinct from the known eight. This new species, tentatively named “Manis mysteria”, is believed to have diverged from its Philippine and Malayan relatives approximately five million years ago.
However, the study also brought forth alarming news. The population of this new species, Manis mysteria, might already be facing a decline. This conclusion is based on the relatively low genetic diversity, high levels of inbreeding, and genetic load observed in the seized samples.
The Mystery of the Manis Mysteria Habitat
Despite the exciting discovery, the exact habitat of Manis mysteria remains a mystery. Scientists speculate that this new species might be native to Southeast Asia, similar to other Asian pangolins. However, due to its physical resemblance to other species and the elusive nature of pangolins in general, it has potentially been overlooked until now.
Urgent Need for Conservation
This study underscores the urgent need for comprehensive research and effective conservation strategies for Manis mysteria. The discovery also serves as a stark reminder of the detrimental impact of trafficking on wildlife. As the pangolin species face the threat of extinction due to illegal hunting and trafficking, proactive measures are needed more than ever to ensure their survival.
The discovery of Manis mysteria is a glimmer of hope, illuminating the still-unexplored biodiversity on our planet. However, it is also a wake-up call for humanity to reassess our relationship with nature, evaluate our actions, and work towards creating a sustainable future for all species.
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