New species found in Costa Rica

Scientists have discovered six new plant species in a remote cloud forest in Costa Rica.

The plants include a new species of Psittacanthus, which is a mistletoe-like parasite with a bright yellow and red flower. The other plants new to science are species of Pilea, Stenospermation, Oreopanax, Cuatresia and Cestrum.

The discoveries are among 5,300 plants, insects and amphibians recorded during three explorations of La Amistad National Park on the Costa Rica-Panama border.

La Amistad is the biggest forest reserve in Central America but is one of the least explored places in the Americas because of treacherous terrain and lack of roads.

Exhibition leader Dr Alex Monro from the Natural History Museum said: "Finding so many new species in one area is exciting. It shows we still have a lot to learn about the variety of wildlife in this region. We have four more expeditions planned this year - who knows what we could find when we go back."

Scientists at the University of Costa Rica will study, name and exhibit the specimens. The expeditions are funded by the UK government's Darwin Initiative, which aims to provide information to help conserve the national park.

La Amistad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with an estimated 250 species of reptiles and amphi-bians, 600 species of birds, 215 species of mammals and 14,000 species of plant.

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