A team of biologists has recently discovered in the dense forests of South America three new species of dwarf dragon lizards, also known as wood lizards. These reptiles are one of the most unique creatures in South America, according to the researchers.
Until recently, biologists believe that wood lizards are the least diverse species of reptiles, mainly because only 6 species of this creature had been discovered eight years ago.
However, in the past years, the number of species has reached 15, including the newly found lizards.
The reptiles were discovered during an expedition made by a team of researchers who wanted to find unknown species of wood lizards.
Omar Torres-Carvajal from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and one of the biologists who discovered the lizards, said that:
“The diversity of these conspicuous reptiles has been underestimated.”
The new species of miniature dragon lizards were discovered in dense forests of the Tropical Andes, an area that is known for its rich biodiversity.
Researchers said they do not really know why it took so long for these new species to be discovered, especially since they are so brightly colored, which makes them very easy to be spotted in their natural habitats.
Torres-Carvajal explained that wood lizards are usually large reptiles, so it’s unusual that only a few species have been discovered in the past ten years. This shows how much there is still to discover about the reptiles living in South America, said Torres-Carvajal.
One of the newly found lizards was named Enyalioides sophiarothschildae and has a black a brown body, with bright white scales under its jaw, which resembles a beard.
This particular species was named after Sophia Rothschild, one of the sponsors who financed the program that led to the discovery of the reptiles.
The second species of lizard discovered was named Enyalioides anisolepis. This species of dwarf dragon is bright green, orange or black in color. The lizard has uneven scales down its back, which inspired its name, which in Greek means “unequal scales”.
The third lizard is called E. altotambo and was named after the town it was discovered in, Alto Tambo, Ecuador. The male of this species looks like tiny iguanas, while the female looks more like a chameleon.
According to DNA analysis, all three species of lizards are different from each other and from other known species of wood lizards.
The discovery was detailed in the journal ZooKeys.
Image Source: wanderlust