Extinct Pinocchio Anole Lizard Rediscovered in Northwest Ecuador [VIDEO]

First Posted: Oct 08, 2013 11:59 AM EDT

In the cloud forest of Ecuador, scientists have rediscovered the long extinct Pinnochio Lizard, a reptile known for its long nose.

After 50 years the existence of the long- nosed Pinocchio lizard was confirmed by an ecotourism company, Tropical Herping, which rediscovered the specimen in the cloudforest of northwest Ecuador, Mindo,

The Pinocchio Lizard also known as the Pincchio anole (anolis proboscis) is a small lizard that was initially discovered in 1953 in Ecuador. Since 1960, biologists failed to trace the  lizard and it was presumed extinct until 2005. Since then the species has been sighted on three different occasions.

Known as the Ecuadorian Horned anole, this odd specimen gets its title because of a protuberance that grows out of its snout. Its common name 'Pinocchio' is coined after the wooden puppet whose nose grew longer everytime he told a lie, reports Destination Ecuador.

Biologists find it hard to spot this scarce creature as it easily blends into the thick vegetation of the cloud forest. But this time they were successful in spotting the creature during night time as these diurnal anoles are easier to find in the dark. Under light they turn pale white in color.

"We wanted to find it because it is a fantastic and mysterious creature that has remained unknown for almost all human beings for decades. Also, we needed pictures of the species for a book about the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Mindo region. It was the only lizard we were missing," Tropical Herping co-founder Alejandro Arteaga told Destination Ecuador.

The team also discovered that these lizards reside in deep forest far from the open areas, quite different from where they were sighted earlier.

According to Jonathan Losos, a herpetologist from Harvard, leading a group of herpetologists from Belgium, Ecuador, and the United States, the anole's elongated nose is flexible and bends when it comes in contact with soft objects like leaves. This discounts  previous assumptions that the male anoles use their elongated nose to battle with each other and that it was used for mating reasons.

"Its hard to describe the feelings of finding this lizard. Finding the Pinnochio Anole was like discovering a secret, a deeply held secret. We conceived it for years to be a mythological creature. Therefore, when Paolo screamed that he had found the lizard, our hearts stopped." said Arteaga.

The lizard uses hydrostatic pressure to change the shape of its horns.

The Pinocchio lizards are listed as endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


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