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'Chewbacca bat,' stinky beetles and other bizarre species found in national park


In April a team of scientists embarked on the first comprehensive biodiversity study in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. Pictured is the "Chewbacca bat" (Triaenops persicus) -- which was given its nickname because of its resemblance to the Star Wars character.


A furry bat named after a notorious Star Wars character, bombardier beetles that unleash explosive, foul-smelling gas to defend themselves, ants that can't walk or stand on flat surfaces and a mysterious cave-dwelling frog that runs instead of hopping.
These bizarre and wildly interesting creatures are just some of the 1,200 species of animals and plants that have been documented for the first time by scientists in the Gorongosa National Park, a stunning biodiversity haven in central Mozambique.
In mid-April, a team of 15 local and international scientists ventured into the park's spectacular rolling woodlands, deep gorges and riverine forests to conduct the first comprehensive biodiversity survey in a remote and largely unexplored area that was ravaged by years of war and poaching.

For about four weeks, the biologists were transformed into nature detectives surveying the Cheringoma Plateau, the part of the park that was least known biologically. Armed with rubber boots, headlamps and a huge variety of sophisticated equipment, they embarked on a painstaking mission to document life in the area and discover the rare, threatened and new-to-science species that live in it.

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