The Cyclops Expedition, which took place over 17 days in the Cyclops Mountains of Papua, Indonesia, managed to discover not only the Payangko or Ekidna, with the Latin name Zaglossus attenboroughi but also hundreds of new species not yet recorded by science.
According to Dr. Leonidas Romanos-Davranoglou, an insect expert from Oxford University who participated in the expedition, they estimate that hundreds of new species, even a new genus, were discovered during the trip.
Leonidas mentions that this is still an estimate, as the process of officially recognizing a species by the scientific community takes a very long time. The results of this study will be the focus of scientists' research for years to come.
One of the most interesting findings was the existence of a new genus of ground-dwelling shrimp. This species was found on a mountaintop over 2000 meters high in a tropical forest. Leonidas explained that the discovery was made while they were examining the rocks and leaves on the ground. They named the shrimp "Sky Shrimp". According to Leonidas, these shrimp live in areas with soil moisture and have sacs on their bodies where the young grow.
Other new species discovered included sightless cave crickets, spiders, scorpions, frogs, and recycler beetles. Leonidas also described the discovery of an insect known as the "killer insect," a small predator equipped with a type of needle in its mouth to inject poison into the bodies of other insects and suck their blood, similar to the behavior of a vampire.
Leonidas also described another discovery, a type of recycler cockroach, which has a rather sweet appearance, unlike the typical cockroach. These insects are involved in the recycling process of wood that falls to the ground, consuming it and forming small tunnels inside the wood. Interestingly, this group of cockroaches collectively care for their young, demonstrating the degree of dependence that children have on their parents.
According to Leonidas, the uniqueness of these insects lies not only in the fact that they are a new species that plays an important role in the ecosystem but also in the complex social system they have.
Many new species are discovered when researchers study a part of the ecosystem that they say receives almost no attention - the forest floor and the soil beneath it. This area serves as a place where fallen leaves accumulate over the years, creating a recycling environment that supports forest fertility.
The researchers took soil samples and found several species of animals living in the soil. Because they live in the soil, these animals are like living in a cave. Leonidas said that these creatures have limited mobility, so the level of endemism is very high. In other words, they can only be found in certain places and are not distributed elsewhere.
The researchers also want to learn more about the evolutionary history of the animals in the Cyclops Mountains. They suspect that these mountains were once a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean that later merged with the Papuan mainland.
Researchers are studying the evolutionary history of the animals in the Cyclops Mountains. They suggest that the Cyclops Mountains may have been a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean that eventually merged with mainland Papua.
Although this hypothesis has yet to be conclusively proven, the researchers hope to test the veracity of this hypothesis by conducting DNA tests on the animals that inhabit the mountain.
By understanding the origins of these small animals, the researchers hope to reveal how and when the forests of the Cyclops Mountains formed. In addition, they are trying to prove geological theories about whether the island of Papua was once made up of several isolated islands that later merged into a single entity.