Colorful Lizard From The Family Agamidae Discovered In Vietnam

January 14, 2013

A colorful new lizard species of the family Agamidae has been discovered in southern Vietnam by a team of Russian and German herpetologists. Calotes bachae is a well known lizard but was thought to be another blue lizard species, Calotes mystaceus, from Myanmar and Thailand. A genetic and morphological comparison of the two lizards determined that the lizard in Vietnam is in fact distinct from the lizard found in Myanmar and Thailand, reports Sci-News.

Photo by Peter Geissler

Calotes bachae was discovered in southern Vietnam bvy a team of Russian and German herpetologists.

“By a genetic comparison, the German-Russian research team revealed that the Vietnamese lizards are a distinct new species”, said Timo Hartmann, Ph.D candidate at the Museum Koenig’s Herpetology Department and lead author of a study published in the journal Zootaxa.

“Our finding highlights the importance of using new methods like DNA bar-coding in today’s science.” said the study's co-author, Dr. Nikolay Poyarkov of the department of vertebrate zoology at the museum.

The male lizard, which measures around 4 inches in length, features a bright turquoise blue head and front legs, an orange colored body and tail and spines down its back. The females show less color but still retain the bluish head. The male's color is more pronounced during the mating season, and like chameleons, this species has the capability to change colors. It was noted that at night, the lizard changes its colors to a dark brownish hue. In addition to the rainforests of Vietnam, the lizard can be found in parks and flowerbeds in Hoi Chi Minh City.

"To observe the new species no exhausting march into the remote rainforests of Vietnam is necessary. These lizards seem to have arranged themselves well with humans, even in the center of the metropolis Ho Chi Minh City one can find them within parks and flower beds," co-author Peter Geissler, Ph.D candidate at the Museum Koenig’s Herpetology Department told Sci-News.

An abstract of the study can be found in the journal Zootaxa.

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