YANGON, Myanmar - A dragon fish with intricate, maze-like markings on every scale, a toad with rough, chocolate-colored skin and a ginger plant were among more than two dozen new flora and fauna species found in Myanmar since it emerged from a half-century of military rule and isolation.
The World Wildlife Fund said Thursday that the discoveries by global scientists highlight the need to invest in conservation as the biologically diverse nation of 60 million revs up its economic engines and opens up to foreign investment.
Already, the environmental group says, the country is starting to succumb to many of the pressures felt by its neighbors, from deforestation and illegal wildlife trade to mining and the development of hydropower.
In 2012 and 2013, 14 new plants, seven fish, four amphibians and one reptile were identified as new species.
They include a new species of dragon fish, which are hugely prized in the Asian aquatic world. The so-called Myanmar "scribbled arowana" is already creating a buzz on the aquarium fish circuit because of its unheard of complex, labyrinth-style markings on every individual scale.
And a new chocolate-spotted frog, a member of the Amolops family, was found in a mountain range that stretches along the country's western border and India, the WWF said in its report "Mysterious Mekong."
Though previously unidentified by scientists, a ginger plant, collected from a single region in the cloud forests of the western state of Rakhine, has been hiding in plain sight at local markets, it added.