Mid-week Reptilian #16: New Species of Monitor Lizard!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 1:45 PM Bookmark and Share
I love monitor lizards (if you haven't already suspected as much). They're just so intelligent, physically impressive, and generally handsome little (ok, in some cases huge) lizards that I don't see how someone could look into their eyes and not be captivated by them.

You might think that all monitor species pushing 6 feet in length have been discovered by now, but recent news (here, here, here, y aquĆ­) out of the Philippines provides a nice reminder that there is still much in the world we have yet to discover and understand. 

Meet the latest addition to the list of known varanids, Varanus bitatawa (aka the Northern Sierra Madre Forest Monitor):

 Figure 1: Now isn't this V. bitatawa just the cutest thing you've ever seen? 
I mean, this kind of cute just eats up any of the competition! [Source]


The find was published today in Biology Letters (links below), though I haven't had a chance to read it yet.  The discovery itself is pretty big news, but the story gets better!!  These rather large monitors also have some pretty interesting ecology:  they're arboreal and (unlike almost all other monitors, which are carnivores) their diet is at least partly composed of fruit!!

Figure 2: More reptilian cuteness, which was probably followed 
by the photographer getting a nice tail lashing. [Source]

References:

  1. L.J. Welton, C.D. Siler, D. Bennett, A. Diesmos, M.R. Duya, R. Dugay, E.L.B. Rico, M. Van Weerd, R.M. Brown. 7 April 2010. A spectacular new Philippine monitor lizard reveals a hidden biogeographic boundary and a novel flagship species for conservation. Biology Letters. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2010.0119

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