PHNOM PENH, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- A crocodile lizard that has been turned into a cartoon character, a horseshoe bat that would not look out of place in a Star Wars movie and a snail-eating turtle are just three of the 115 new species discovered in the Greater Mekong region in 2016, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said in a report Tuesday.
The Greater Mekong region is home to some of the most iconic species in the world. Last year, 115 new mammals, amphibians, reptiles and plants were found by scientists in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, said the report posted on its website.
"Three mammals, two fish, 11 reptiles, 11 amphibians, and 88 plants were described for the first time," it said.
"This brings the total number of new species of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians discovered in the region between 1997 and 2016 to 2,524."
Four of the new species found by scientists are a new species of a crocodile lizard native to Vietnam, a snail-eating turtle and a horseshoe bat, both from Thailand, and a loach fish with striking black and brown stripes on its elongated body from Cambodia, it said.
The Greater Mekong is one of the most biologically rich regions on Earth and one of the most threatened by environmental destruction, the report said, adding that one of the biggest threats to the habitats that many of these species rely on is infrastructure development.
It added that dams are also set to cause major disruptions to the habitats of thousands of freshwater species.
"This region is home to both incredible wildlife and incredible communities of people. We need to find a way forward so that both of these groups can live together harmoniously," said Stuart Chapman, Regional Representative for WWF-Greater Mekong.