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Part of the payoff for Conservation International comes in the form of scientific discovery. Today, the nonprofit group is reporting the identification of 46 potentially new species, observed during a three-week expedition to southwest Suriname in 2010. The list includes a fancifully named "cowboy frog," a strangely spiked species of armored catfish, and colorful breeds of beetles and katydids.
"You can really get up close to wildlife here," she said in a news release. "A camera trap recorded a jaguar about one hundred yards from our camp." The cameras captured nighttime glimpses of a giant armadillo, a peccary and an ocelot as well.
The scientists also observed cave petroglyphs near the Trio village of Kwamalasamutu, at a site that Conservation International is helping local communities preserve as an ecotourism destination. The site, known as Werehpai, is the oldest known human settlement found in southern Suriname: Radiocarbon dating and archaeological studies suggest that the first signs of habitation go back at least 5,000 years.