Scientists have discovered three new species of wood lizards in the Andes of Peru and Ecuador. The new species differ from their closest relatives in scale features, coloration and DNA.
Wood lizards are among the largest and most colourful lizards in South American forests.
The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.
“I started working with wood lizards in 2006 as part of my postdoc at the Smithsonian Institution under the direction of Kevin de Queiroz,” says mar Torres-Carvajal of the Museo de Zoología QCAZ, Ecuador.
“At that time only seven species of wood lizards had been described, and they were recognised in the literature as one of the less diverse groups of South American lizards. During the last few years we doubled the number of known species of wood lizards, showing that the diversity of these conspicuous reptiles had been underestimated.”
The three new species of Wood lizards (Enyalioides) are diurnal and live in lowland tropical rainforests, such as the Chocó and western Amazon basin, as well as cloudforests on both sides of the Andes. The new species described by Torres-Carvajal and his colleagues increases the number of species of wood lizards to 15.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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