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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Scientists discover green-blooded frog

Cambodia (ChattahBox) — A new species of frog with some very unique characteristics has been living in a very rough neighborhood. The Samkos bush frog has green blood and turquoise bones has been discovered living in a former stronghold of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge forces.

The frog is one of four previously unknown species discovered as part of a project to rebuild the country’s science base from the devastation left by the dictator’s regime. Smith’s frog, Rana faber, the Aural horned frog, Megophrys auralensis, and the Cardamom bush frog, Philautus cardamonus, are the other three species discovered by researchers from FFI during their surveys of Cambodia in the Cardamom mountains

The Samkos bush frog is so small and well camouflaged in the jungle habitat that researchers are able to track it down only by listening for its distinctive “rising trill” call. It is thought to breed in temporary pools created by heavy rain.

The unusual color of the blood and bones is caused by biliverdin, a pigment that would usually be processed in the liver as a waste product but which in the frog is passed back into the bloodstream.

Conservationists believe that the pigment helps serve two important purposes. To help camouflage the amphibian because it shows green through the translucent skin. It is also suspected that it also serves to make the frog, Chiromantis samkosensis, taste nasty to predators.

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Cambodia bans poultry from Kandal province after human infection

Cambodian officials have banned all poultry from Kandal province outside the capital Phnom Penh, to try to contain an outbreak of birdflu which has infected a 19-year-old man.

Agriculture ministry workers have destroyed 326 birds in the past week, and say any poultry found within three kilometres of Kandal province must be culled.

The 19-year-old is recovering in hospital, after it was confirmed he contracted the lethal H5N1 form of the bird flu virus in Kandal.

"Our experts have carefully taken control of the area and looked into the issues very closely," said ministry spokesman Kao Phal.

He says a government ban on selling or transporting poultry in the area will be in force for the next 30 days.

"We are educating the residents to love their lives rather than keep going on with their dangerous businesses," he said.

Officials say residents have been cooperating with the ban, and staff from the agriculture and health ministries are continuing to monitor the outbreak.

"We will continue to search for suspected cases for the next 10 days around the area," health ministry spokesman Ly Sovann said.

The teenage patient is the first person to be infected by bird flu in Cambodia this year.

Prior to 2008, seven Cambodians have been infected with the virus since it emerged in Asia in 2003.

While all previous patients have died, health officials say the man is expected to survive.

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