Best of 2018: In a long-lost city, scientists find an ‘exuberance’ of life

Red-eyed tree frogs are one of the 56 species of reptiles and amphibians found by the team. (© Trond Larsen)

Editor’s note: As the end of 2018 approaches, Human Nature is revisiting some of our favorite stories of the year. To support crucial conservation work like this, consider making a donation to Conservation International.

Deep in the rainforest of Honduras, an “ecological SWAT team” embarked on a mission — to quickly gather key biological and social data from the critically important area. Trond Larsen, director of Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program, and his team explored “the White City” — hidden for centuries within a remote valley — and discovered a trove.

They found that the biodiverse-rich “city” is home to 198 species of birds, 94 of butterflies, 30 of bats and 56 of amphibians and reptiles — more than a dozen of which had never been recorded in Honduras.

“The exuberance of life in this concealed valley makes it a high priority for conservation,” Larsen said. Because of the area’s significance, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has expressed interest in protecting it and the surrounding forest from cattle ranching and logging, which threaten its existence.

Read more about their findings and explore a photo gallery of some of the species they discovered in the original post.

Olivia DeSmit is a staff writer for Conservation International.

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