A Klingon newt, a name taken from a "Star Trek" character, was one of more than 160 new species found along the Mekong River region, according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund.
The species discoveries were made in 2015 along the river that winds through China's Tibetan-Qinghai Plateau to Southern Vietnam before ending at the South China Sea, the WWF noted.
"A rainbow-headed snake, a dragon-like lizard, and a newt that looks like a Klingon from 'Star Trek' were among the 163 new species that were found crawling in caves, flying through rainforest canopies and growing deep within remote jungles," said the WWF statement. "In all, nine amphibians, 11 fish, 14 reptiles, 126 plants and three mammals were described for the first time."
The Klingon newt, scientifically known as Tylototriton anguliceps, was found in Thailand, and grows up to nearly three inches long.
"With its striking red and black markings contrasting dramatically with the green of the surrounding landscape, these newts add to the list of unique amphibians found in Thailand," the WWF statement said.
According to researcher Porrawee Pomchote, per the WWF, the amphibians are especially sensitive to pesticides given their porous skin. Pesticide use and deforestation make up the main threats to Tylototriton anguliceps.
The Christian Science Monitor called the rainbow-colored snake Parafimbrios lao, nicknamed the Ziggy Stardust snake, as the "most eye-catching" of the discoveries.
"The snake, whose dental layout and unusual coloration warranted the designation of a completely new genus, is only known to be found in a single small region," the Christian Science Monitor noted.
"Species discovery isn't random," David Blackburn, a herpetologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History who was not involved in the WWF report, told National Geographic. "A lot of times, people just haven't looked.
"A lot of the world's biodiversity remains to be described. Some of these species are prone to extinction. We can't protect what we need to protect without data," Blackburn added.
Blackburn told National Geographic that the new discoveries are facing current challenges, such as development in the region, including some large dams. He said learning more about the plants and animals in an area makes it easier for scientists to protect them as humans move in.
The WWF said 87 new species were found in Vietnam, 32 in Thailand, 22 in Loas and Cambodia, and 11 in Myanmar.
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