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article imageNew lizard species discovered in southern Vietnam rainforest

By Nancy Houser     Jan 13, 2013 in Science
The male "Calotes bachae" has been discovered by an international team of zoologists, an unidentified brightly-colored chameleon-type lizard found deep within the southern Vietnamese rainforest.
Formerly known as a blue lizard species from Thailand and Myanmar by the Vietnam population and scientists, a German-Russian research team has completed a genetic comparison and found that the Calotes Bach is a new species.
The new species belongs to the genus Calotes and measures up to 10 cm in length; and has distinguishing spines on its back. According to Sci-News, “The species was named Calotes bachae after Rike Bach from Bonn, Germany, in gratitude for supporting Peter Geissler during several field trips in Indochina.”
The male C. bachae, when courting females, can quickly adorn themselves in an astonishingly rich display of colors, with their beautiful sapphire-blue heads shining like a metal helmet --- simply to impress a mate.
However, they are similar to the chameleons, reducing and changing their colors when not breeding, different locations or various times of day. At night, they are dark and brownish, quietly blending into their surroundings.
The habitat of the newly discovered lizards ranges from deep within the country’s rainforest to the center of the metropolis Ho Chi Minh City, where they are seen easily lounging in busy parks and exotic flower beds.
Calotes bachae and its sister species C. mystaceus.
Calotes bachae and its sister species C. mystaceus.
NovaTaxa
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Timo Hartmann, PhD candidate at the Museum Koenig’s Herpetology Department, was the lead author of the study published in the journal, Zootaxa, considered a mega-journal for zoological taxonomists in the world.
His co-author, Dr. Nikolay Poyarkov of the Department of Vertebrate Zoology at the Lomonosov University, said, “Our finding highlights the importance of using new methods, like DNA-barcoding in today’s science.” In the article, the genetic comparison found genetic and morphological differences between the blue lizard and the Calotes bachae.
DNA barcoding sequences are very short, relative to the entire genome, and they can be obtained reasonably quickly and cheaply. To put it simply, "Barcoding is a standardized approach to identifying animals and plants by minimal sequences of DNA."
The Smithsonium Institution explains it in a bit more detail, "It is 648 nucleotide base pairs long in most groups, a very short sequence relative to 3 billion base pairs in the human genome, for example."
More about lizard species, New species of Lizard, Vietnam rainforest, Calotes bachae, unidentified lizard
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