Hey Worf, is that you?
The World Wide Fund For Nature, better known as the World Wildlife Fund, released a report Monday compiling the 163 new species discovered in Asia's Greater Mekong region in 2015. Among them are a newt reminiscent of a Klingon, the famous warrior species from Star Trek, and a rainbow-headed snake that reminded someone of Ziggy Stardust.
The Klingon newt, whose scientific name is Tylototriton anguliceps, has dorsal ridges and red and black markings. Those features earned it the "Klingon" moniker, though it doesn't carry a bat'leth. It's smaller than your usual Klingon warrior, just 6 cm to 7 cm long, and was discovered in the Chiang Rai province of Thailand.
This is not the only new species to snag a pop-culture name. Parafimbrios lao, found in two provinces of Laos, may not play guitar, but it's been given a rockin' nickname. Because of the rainbow markings on its head, it's been dubbed the Ziggy Stardust snake in honor of the late singer David Bowie's colorful alter ego.
The dazzling snake "did not look like something known," Alexandre Teynie, a researcher who led the team that discovered the snake, said in the WWF report. This is only fitting since Bowie himself was as as original as they come.
Southeast Asia's Greater Mekong region, where these two new species and 161 others were discovered in 2015, is one of the planet's most biodiverse areas. Other new species mentioned in the WWF report include a woolly-headed bat found in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, a tiny orange-eyed frog found in Cambodia and Vietnam, and a dragon-like horned tree lizard found in Thailand. The full species list can be downloaded from the WWF site.
"With an average of two new species being identified every week, there's no telling what is waiting to be found," the WWF report states.
But the Klingon newt, Ziggy Stardust snake and other newbie species don't have the fame or security of their namesakes. Some of the species are endangered due to habitat destruction or other woes.
"The Greater Mekong region is a magnet for the world's conservation scientists because of the incredible diversity of species that continue to be discovered here," WWF wildlife program manger Jimmy Borah said in the report. "These scientists, the unsung heroes of the planet, know they are racing against time to ensure that these newly discovered species are protected and saved."