Sunday, 11 April 2010

New lizard species found

A large fruit-eating lizard that lives in trees on the northern Philippines island of Luzon has been confirmed as a new species, scientists reported this week. Hunted for its tasty flesh, the brightly colored forest monitor lizard can grow to more than 6 feet in length but weighs only about 22 pounds, 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. "This thing is a fruit-eater, and it's only the third fruit-eating lizard in the world."

Discovering such a large vertebrate is very rare, Brown said. The lizard, a species of the genusVaranus, is skittish and able to hide from humans, which could explain why it has gone undetected by scientists for so long.

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