Philippines dragon-sized lizard is a new species
2010 04 08
By Deborah Zabarenko | Reuters.com
A dragon-sized, fruit-eating lizard that lives in the trees on the northern Philippines island of Luzon has been confirmed as a new species, scientists reported on Tuesday.
Hunted for its tasty flesh, the brightly colored forest monitor lizard can grow to more than six feet in length but weighs only about 22 pounds (10 kg), said Rafe Brown of the University of Kansas, whose team confirmed the find.
"It lives up in trees, so it can’t get as massive as the Komodo dragon, a huge thing that eats large amounts of fresh meat," Brown said by telephone. "This thing is a fruit-eater and it’s only the third fruit-eating lizard in the world."
Discovering such a large vertebrate species is extremely rare, Brown said. The lizard, a new species of the genus Varanus, is skittish and able to hide from humans, its primary predators, which could explain why it has gone undetected by scientists for so long.
A Northern Sierra Madre Forest Monitor Lizard, a dragon-sized, fruit-eating lizard that lives in the trees on the northern Philippines island of Luzon. Both Photographs: REUTERS/Joseph Brown/University of Kansas/Handout
Biologists first saw photographs of the big, skinny lizard in 2001, when those surveying the area passed hunters carrying the lizards’ colorful carcasses, but the species at that point had never been given a scientific identification.
In the next few years, Brown said, ethnobiologists kept hearing stories "about these two kinds of lizard that everyone liked to eat because their flesh tasted better than the ones that lived on the ground; this thing was described as bigger and more brightly colored."
The two kinds of lizard described by the local people were two names for the same animal, Brown said.
CLAW SCRATCHES ON TREES
In 2009, graduate students at the end of a two-month expedition kept seeing signs of the big lizard. There were claw-scratches on trees and clumps of pandanus trees, whose fruit the lizard prefers.
The clumps indicated that the lizards had eaten pandanus fruit and then excreted the seeds in clusters.
"It was literally in the last couple days of the expedition, we were running out of money and food and this was the payoff: they finally got this gigantic animal," Brown said.
Hunters who had heard of the team’s interest brought a barely-alive adult male lizard to their camp. The team euthanized the animal and did genetic tests that confirmed it as a unique species, Brown said.
DNA analysis showed there was a deep genetic divergence between the new lizard and its closest relative, Gray’s monitor lizard, which is also a fruit-eater but lives on the southern end of Luzon, rather than the northern end where the forest monitor lizard lives.
"They are extremely secretive," Brown said of the new species. "I think that centuries of humans hunting them have made the existing populations ... very skittish and wary and we never see them. They see and hear us before we have a chance to see them, they scamper up trees before we have a chance to come around."
These findings were published in the Royal Society Journal Biology Letters, with additional work by scientists in the Philippines and the Netherlands.
Article from: Reuters.com
Lizards Undergo Rapid Evolution After Introduction To A New Home
Cosmic Keys, Archaic Man, and The ShapeShifting Lizard Kings (Video)
All Hail Our Lizard Overlords: White and Wright Prepare For ‘Them’
Remains of Prehistoric Reptile Species Found
Clotaire Rapaille - SUVs and the Reptilian Brain - 60 Minutes (Video)
Clotaire Rapaille - Reptilian Marketing (Video)
Reptilian Complex - Wikipedia
Latest News from our Front Page
Footage of Killer Machete ‘Terrorist’ Attack in Woolwich, East London - Major Inconsistencies in the video footage
2013 05 24
Red Ice Creations: The following analysis of the killing in Woolwich, London is provided by many sources. Many different opinions are gathered, but on the whole it’s clear that the level of suspicion of the press, as well as government and security officials, is high. And with all that’s going on it’s not unfounded suspicion.
There are still a multitude of ...
Soldier Beheaded in Broad Daylight Machete Attack
2013 05 23
Woolwich attack: terrorist proclaimed ’an eye for an eye’ after attack
A British soldier has been butchered on a busy London street by two Islamist terrorists, one of whom proclaimed afterwards: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
In the first terrorist murder on the British mainland since the 7/7 suicide bombings of 2005, the men attempted ...
Ciudad Blanca Found? The lost city in Honduras
2013 05 23
Explorers have been searching on foot for Honduras’s mythical city for generations. Now, they seem to have found it from a tiny Cessna airplane, aided by million-dollar technology.
Is the fabled lost city of Honduras hiding beneath the dense jungle canopy?
The Mosquitia rain forests of Honduras and Nicaragua are, to put it mildly, thick jungle. As one travel guide notes, "While ...
Cheetah-bot races into your post-apocalyptic nightmares
2013 05 23
An ongoing robotics project at MIT aiming to recreate the gait of a cheetah is sharing a new video showing off the latest progress. There’s a long way to go before anyone would call it catlike, but it’s impressive nevertheless.
The Biomimetic Robotics Lab at MIT is attempting to create things much like those being made by the more well-known ...
When an Army of Artists Fooled Hitler
2013 05 23
Shortly after the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, two Frenchmen on bicycles managed to cross the perimeter of the United States Army’s 23rd Headquarters Special Troops and what they saw astounded them. Four American soldiers had picked up a 40-ton Sherman tank and were turning it in place.
Soldier Arthur Shilstone says, “They looked at me, and they were ...
|More News » |