New Lizard Species Discovered in Vietnam

First Posted: Jan 21, 2013 09:40 AM EST

A new colorful lizard species has been discovered by a team of Russian and German scientists in Southern Vietnam.

Spotted during a survey conducted on reptiles and amphibians in Vietnam's Cat Tien National Park, the newly discovered lizard has been named as Calotes Bachae after researcher Rike Bach from Bonn, Germany, for supporting study co-author Peter Geissler in his fieldtrips in Indochina, reports Sci-news.

When the team initially found this lizard, they misinterpreted it to be another blue-headed lizard known as Calotes Mystaceus that is mostly found in Mynamar and Thailand, as it was more or less identical to it. The results were proved when a genetic analysis of both species was conducted, which considered characteristics like scale and size of the animals. After this analysis, it was confirmed that the newly discovered lizard belongs to a new species.

The animal species that were collected during the survey were shared with a team of Russian scientists who were working on DNA barcoding database of all amphibian and reptile species from Vietnam. They noticed a genetic difference between the Calotes Mystaceus and Calotes Bachae.

"The finding was unexpected, but not uncommon. In many cases two different species of frogs or lizards may look really similar but have profound genetic divergence," study co-author Nick A. Poyarkov, from the Department of Zoology of the Lomonosov Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia, was quoted as saying in National Geographic.

The newly discovered lizard has brown spots on its back with yellowish moustache on its face whereas the Calotes Mystaceus has dark brown spots and white moustache. During the mating season, the heads of Calotes Bachae shine bright and they use it to lure their counterparts. They have the ability to even alter their color at nights, reports National Geographic.

The details of the study appear in the journal Zootaxa.

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