Monitor Lizard Rediscovered in Papua New Guinea

May 3, 2017

A monitor lizard that was first discovered in the early 19th century has been rediscovered on the  island of New Ireland in northern Papua New Guinea.

The lizard, Varanus douarrha, grows to more than 1.3 meters (4+ ft) in length and is black in coloration with yellow spots throughout its body. Valter Weijola of the University of Turku, Finland rediscovered the species while doing fieldwork on the Bismarck Islands. 

Varanus douarrha

Valter Weijola

Varanus douarrha, grows to more than 1.3 meters.

The lizard was first discovered in the 19th century by French naturalist René Lesson. The holotype was lost in a shipwreck at the Cape of Good Hope in 1824, according to Phys.Org. This prevented the study of the lizard.

It was initially thought that Varanus douarrha was actually the common mangrove monitor, Varanus indicus, but new morphological and genetic studies determined that those on New Ireland developed into a separate species.

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