Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Lost World

No dinosaurs, but ‘lost world’ seems to have everything else

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Soon after scientists landed by helicopter in the mist-shrouded mountains of one of Indonesia’s most remote provinces, they stumbled upon a primitive egg-laying mammal that allowed itself to be picked up and brought to their field camp.

Describing a “lost world” apparently never visited by humans, members of the team said Tuesday that they also saw large mammals that have been hunted to near-extinction elsewhere and discovered dozens of exotic new species of frogs, butterflies and palms.

“It’s a spectacularly beautiful Garden of Eden,” said Bruce Beehler, a co-leader of the monthlong trip to the Foja Mountains, an area in the eastern province of Papua with roughly 2 million acres of pristine tropical forest.

“We’ve only scratched the surface. There was not a single trail, no sign of civilization, no sign of even local communities ever having been there."

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