Paul the Postdoc
by Rafael Florés
Photo: IRD/Jean-Marc Porte/Lengguru 2014
It is a fine Friday afternoon and I
would like to know: Is there any good
discovery waiting for me inside this
tube or Should i better go home?
...should i better go home...
...uld i better go home...
...better go home...
Sometimes it is better to ask.
You may save time, money
Kermit and his Friends
Picture of the issue
hese old water-splashers are most unlikely to turn into handsome young
princes anytime soon. But they do dwell in mysterious lands that hard-
ly anyone has seen with his or her own eyes. That is until October last
year, when teams of French and Indonesian researchers set foot on the Lengguru
range in West Papua, Indonesia, to map the region’s unique fauna and flora.
“Karst [lime stone formations] form natural labyrinths scattered with huge net-
works of canyons, caves, underground galleries and fragmented rivers, shelter-
ing a panel of very diversified ecosystems. (…) the karst masses are populated
by unique communities of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and flora, most of them
unknown,” write the scientists. Diving to 100 metres below sea level and climb-
ing to the tops of 1,400 metre high mountainous wedges, the expedition partici-
pants collected hundreds of specimens, including more than 50 bird species, 47
reptiles, 35 amphibians, 20 bats and some 300 orchid species. Now, the finds
will be analysed genetically (molecular barcoding, with additional nuclear and
mitochondrial markers) and morphologically to “confirm the discovery of at
least 50 new animal and plant species”.