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Hundreds Of New Species Found

(WWF/Montri Sumontha)
You could be forgiven for thinking that giant spiders and cyanide-bearing millipedes exist only in Jules Verne novels -- until now.

Because a report published today by the World Wildlife Fund shows that these are but two of more than a thousand new species - including mammals, fish and snakes - discovered by scientists who for a decade searched a 232,000 square-mile patch of largely unexplored rainforest in south-east Asia.

Take the huntsman spider, found in caves in Laos and one of 88 new kinds of spider found in neighboring countries. Its 12-inch leg span could cover a dinner plate. Or Thailand's dragon millipede, a formidable-looking creature that sees off predators first with its spiny bright-pink skin and second with glands that produce cyanide.

Click here (photo essay) to see some of the 1,068 new species identified in the Greater Mekong from 1997 to 2007. The WWF report First Contact in the Greater Mekong is published today.

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