You might think that all monitor species pushing 6 feet in length have been discovered by now, but recent news (here, here, here, y aquí) 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?
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
- 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