New monitor lizard species discovered

Varanus lirungensis


July 21, 2009

German researchers have discovered a new species of monitor lizard in Indonesia using DNA analysis and morphological characteristics. The species, Varanus lirungensis, is described in the Australian Journal of Zoology.

Varanus lirungensis inhabits the Talaud Islands, an archipelago between the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and Mindanao in the Philippines. Its latin name refers to the small village of Lirung on Salibabu Island where the new species was first located. Salibabu is the second largest island of the Talaud group.

Researchers say the discovery is important because it highlights the high, but poorly known, diversity of monitor lizards in Indonesia. Several species of water monitors have been discovered on Sulawesi and surrounding islands in recent years.

But the discoveries come as a mixed blessing for the species. On one hand, researchers can ask authorities to protect the species from trade. On the other, reptile collectors are always on the lookout for previously unknown species. When scientists report discoveries, reptiles hunters are not long to follow, poaching specimen from the wild.

“As monitor lizards are exploited for the international trade in live animals and reptile leather, small island populations could soon be eliminated” said Wolfgang Wägele, Director of the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZFMK) in Bonn. …

“The taxonomic revision of Indonesia’s monitor lizards is urgently required to determine and adjust the official export quotas and define the conservation status of single island populations,” added Thomas Ziegler, study co-author and head of the aquarium at the Cologne Zoo.

Monitors are a family of carnivorous lizards found throughout Asia, Australia, and Africa. The group includes the Komodo dragon, the world’s heaviest lizard, and the crocodile monitor, the longest lizard.

Koch A., Arida E., Schmitz A., Böhme W. & Ziegler T. 2009. Refining the polytypic species concept of mangrove monitors (Squamata: Varanus indicus group): a new cryptic species from the Talaud Islands, Indonesia, reveals the underestimated diversity of Indo-Australian monitor lizards. Australian Journal of Zoology, 57(1): 29-40.

The origin of the Komodo dragon: here.

A possible new species of giant prehistoric lizard—bigger and badder than the deadly Komodo dragon—may have stalked the ancient Australian outback, a new study says. Three fossilized bones of the mysterious 13-foot-long (4-meter-long) lizard were collected in 1966 in western Timor island, part of Indonesia: here.

Komodo dragon catching a bat. Video here.

Komodo dragons and other giant lizards all evolved in Australia: here.

The Singapore Zoo has hatched the first baby Komodo Dragon in it’s 34 year history. Here you get a rare glimpse at the world’s heaviest lizard at it’s very smallest: just hatched!

California’s horned lizard is 3 species, based on genetics, morphology and ecology: here. And here.

A study published in the July 17 issue of the journal Science details how sandfish — small lizards with smooth scales — move rapidly underground through desert sand. In this first thorough examination of subsurface sandfish locomotion, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology found that the animals place their limbs against their sides and create a wave motion with their bodies to propel themselves through granular media: here.

Philippine crocodiles: here.

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4 thoughts on “New monitor lizard species discovered

  1. Singapore Zoo breeds rare Komodo dragon

    (AFP) – 6 hours ago

    SINGAPORE — Singapore Zoo has successfully bred the highly-endangered Komodo dragon, officials said on Monday, reporting that the rare baby reptile was in good health.

    The 40-centimetre (16-inch) hatchling is the first Komodo dragon born in an Asian zoo outside Indonesia, the native home of the world’s largest lizard species, a spokeswoman told AFP.

    In a press statement, assistant director of zoology Biswajit Guha said the hatching of the Komodo dragon, whose gender has not been confirmed, “is one of the most significant moments” for the zoo, one of Singapore’s top attractions.

    The breeding of Komodo dragons in captivity “is fraught with difficulties due to incompatible pairings, dearth of experience in egg incubation and over-representation of males in zoos,” he said.

    The reptiles are considered one of Indonesia’s national treasures. Komodos can grow up to three metres (10 feet) in length and weigh up to 140 kilograms (310 pounds).

    They are listed as “vulnerable” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

    Only 3,000 of the poisonous lizards, native to Komodo and a few other islands in eastern Indonesia, remain in the wild, according to another campaign group, The Nature Conservancy, which does field work in the area.

    The reptiles live on a diet of large mammals, reptiles and birds, but have been known to attack humans.

    An Indonesian fisherman was mauled to death by a Komodo dragon in March after he ventured into a remote island sanctuary.

    Copyright © 2009 AFP


  2. Pingback: Monitor lizard discovery in Indonesia | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Mosasaur species comparison | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Wild animals of Singapore, video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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