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01 May 2011

GIANT VARANUS, ANOTHER 2010 DISCOVERY FROM SOUTHEAST ASIA


A large (2 m long) lizard, cousin of the komodo dragon inhabiting an island in the Philippines, Varanus bitatawa, made a stunning discovery adding to the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. It is a secretive, frugivorous, forest monitor lizard from a forest in northern Philippines. Data from DNA, and morphology, demonstrated its taxonomic distinctiveness and revealed its close relationship to Varanus olivaceus (from southern Luzon and nearby islands). The new species appears to be restricted to forests of the central and northern Sierra Madre mountain range. Its discovery identified a seldom-perceived biogeographic boundary and emphasized the need for continued biodiversity research in the megadiverse conservation hotspot of the Philippines. 

ANOTHER NEW SPECIES DISCOVERED DURING THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF BIODIVERSITY (2010) WAS VIETNAMESE, TOO


It is a lizard named Leiolepis ngovantrii, with populations made up of only female individuals (thus parthenogenetic, asexual), found in Binh Chau – Phuoc Buu Nature Reserve, Xuyen Moc district, BaRia-Vung Tau Province, Vietnam. It was long time unnoticed to science in spite of inhabiting a heavily populated area and being eaten in local restaurants. Its pattern of coloration provides camouflage in the coastal sandy places they inhabit, as well as under mangrove forests during the dry season.  

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