The lizard differs from other known species of monitor lizard. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 yeowatzup
A previously undiscovered species of monitor lizard has been found on the Pacific island of Mussau.
Measuring up to 3ft long and with distinctive yellow and orange markings, this unique species of reptile is thought to have been cut off from others of its kind for up to two million years.
Being at the top of the food chain and with the island being uninhabited by humans, the lizard has managed to thrive in its isolation and is now unlike any other monitor lizard species on the planet.
Finland graduate student Valter Weijola, who headed up the team who discovered the animal, has described the species as a "biogeographical oddity".
"Isolation is the keyword here," he said. "It is what has driven speciation and made the South-Pacific region one of the World’s biodiversity hotspots."
"For anything to arrive on Mussau (from New Guinea or New Britain) it would need to cross 250-350 kilometers of open sea, and this doesn’t happen frequently. So, once the ancestor arrived, perhaps in the form of a gravid female, the population must have been completely isolated."
Source: Discovery News | Comments (8)
Monitor Lizard, Mussau