A gecko so small it can perch on top of a pencil has been discovered along with dozens of new animal species in Ecuador’s threatened rainforest.
Scientists also found 30 new varieties of frog and a snail-sucking snake – all on the verge of becoming extinct.
Their microhabitat – the Cerro Pata de Pájaro, meaning Bird Leg Hill in Spanish – has seen 95 per cent of its trees felled for farming.
The unique conditions of the mountain slope – a rainforest capped in cloud forest – mean these animals are not seen on neighbouring hills in western Ecuador.
‘There is obviously a great concern that these species will disappear as soon as, or even before, they are formally described by science’, said expedition leader Dr Paul Hamilton of Explorers from Reptile & Amphibian Ecology International.
‘In this part of ¬Ecuador, if you go to one spot you can find 20 or 30 species of frog, and if you go to the next site over you will see a whole bunch of different ones.’
His team also found three species of lungless salamanders and bushmaster snake, which is the longest viper in the world yet is rarely recorded, having been hunted almost to extinction in many parts of its range.