Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Philippines: Giant lizard discovered

"This is truly a spectacular discovery," Pianka said. "Worldwide, there are about 60-plus species of monitor lizards. In all probability, some as yet undescribed species will be found on various islands in Indonesia," he said.

SHOOT: Interesting that it's a herbivore.
clipped from
In this April 2006 photo released by National Museum of the Philippines, a golden-spotted monitor lizard rests on a tree trunk in the Sierra Madre mou

MANILA, Philippines – Researchers have concluded that a giant, golden-spotted monitor lizard discovered in the forested mountains of the Philippines six years ago is a new species, according to a study released Wednesday.

The 6.5-foot (2-meter) -long lizard was first spotted in 2004 in the Sierra Madre mountains on the main island of Luzon when local researchers saw local Agta tribesmen carrying one of the dead reptiles.

With the help of DNA testing, researchers determined it was a new species that was closely related to another monitor lizard on the same island about 90 miles (150 kilometers) away.

The lizard feasts on fruits rather than carcasses, unlike many monitors — including its larger relative, the Komodo dragon, according to American and Filipino researchers who wrote about the discovery in Wednesday's peer-reviewed Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

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