The Real Godzilla?…Dragon-Sized Lizard Eluded Science, Until Now…PHOTO/VIDEO
Spectacularly colored new species of monitor lizard found in the Philippines
A giant, spectacularly colored new species of monitor lizard has just been revealed to scientists in the Philippines.
The reptile, which is roughly 6 feet long (1.8 meters), is kin to Komodo dragons, the world’s largest lizards. Named Varanus bitatawa, this newly discovered species, decorated in stripes of gold flecks and armed with huge, curved claws for climbing trees, is one of only three fruit-eating monitor species in the world.
New to science, not residents
As humans continue to explore the last uncharted regions of the planet, discoveries of previously unknown species of large vertebrates have become rare. It remains doubly surprising this reptile managed to escape the attention of the many biologists that work on the heavily populated island of Luzon.
“I am most impressed that such a large, conspicuous, brightly colored species of monitor lizard escaped the notice of biologists for the past 150 years,” said researcher Rafe Brown, a field herpetologist at the University of Kansas.
“At the same time, we are humbled because the species is not really new — it is only new to us as Western scientists,” Brown said. “In fact, resident indigenous communities — the Agta and Ilongot tribes — have known about it for many generations. If only scientists had listened to them earlier!”
Discovering the giant
Rumors of the lizard’s existence floated among biologists for the past 10 years, Brown explained.
“People had taken photographs of hunters from the resident tribespeople as they were carrying the reptiles back to their homes to feed their families in 2001,” Brown said.
In 2005, two different groups procured juvenile specimens. “However, both of those efforts didn’t collect genetic samples, so we couldn’t yet prove that it was genetically distinct and didn’t just look different,” Brown said. “Also, we wanted a full-sized adult to see how big it got in life.”
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