Tag Archives: chameleon

Rare chameleon, lost to science, found clinging to life in Malawi forest patch

At only 5.5 centimeters (2.1 inches) long, the critically endangered Chapman’s pygmy chameleon (Rhampholeon chapmanorum) lives in the low-elevated rainforest of the Malawi Hills. It’s one of the world’s rarest chameleons and one of the most threatened, losing its territory because of agricultural expansion. 

Image credit: The researchers

The rare chameleon was first described in 1992 by herpetologist Colin Tilbury and was feared to be extinct. But a survey done by researchers from the South African Biodiversity Institute in 2016, whose results are now being published for the first time, has found populations of the small reptiles living in remaining patches of the forest. 

“They are mostly brown but they can change to quite beautiful blues and greens with little dots all over them and that’s probably a way of communicating with each other,” the study’s lead author Krystal Tolley said in a statement. “Other chameleon species can be hysterical, hissing and biting, but pygmy chameleons are gentle and just beautiful.”

Bad news for wildlife

Using historical (1984-1985) and recent (2019) Google Earth satellite imagery of the Malawi Hills and another geographical information system, the researchers estimated about 80% of the Malawi Hills forest had been destroyed from 1984 to 2019. This significantly altered the populations of the Chapman’s pygmy chameleon (along with other animals inhabiting the same area). 

The team also visited the forest in 2016 and found that while the species was severely endangered, it wasn’t extinct yet. They saw seven adult chameleons along a footpath inside the first forest path, 10 inside a site six kilometers southwest of the first, and 21 adults inside a forest patch near Mikundi – where 37 chameleons had been released in 1998 to try to safeguard the species.

“The first one we found was in the transition zone on the forest edge, where there are some trees but mostly maize and cassava plants,” Tolley said in a statement. “When we found it we got goosebumps and just started jumping around. We didn’t know if we would get any more, but once we got into the forest there were plenty, although I don’t know how long that will last.”

Following their discovery, the authors went to the lab and carried out a genetic analysis, finding that the chameleons’ genetic diversity was normal in comparison to that of other chameleons. But there were many differences in genetic structure between populations in different areas. This suggests the fragmentation of the forest disrupted the chameleons’ breeding ability. 

However, Eric Routman, a professor emeritus of biology at San Francisco State University, who wasn’t involved in the study, told CNN that the researchers might have overestimated the amount of genetic diversity between populations by not accounting for the way that some DNA is inherited. “The genetic part of their study is inconclusive,” he added. 

Challenges ahead

Chameleons live mainly in Africa and the nearby island of Madagascar, and most species inhabit rainforests. As rainforests are fragmented by savanna, the chameleons have lived isolated from each other for millions of years. This has caused populations to evolve into distinct species that are highly adapted to forest life. 

If the forest disappears, they are essentially doomed. And that’s what’s happening to many species, with growing deforestation rates in many countries in Africa. Nearly 40% of 218 chameleon species are threatened with extinction, with another 19% considered near-threatened. That’s why researchers are calling for comprehensive measures to protect them.

“Urgent conservation action is needed, including halting of forest destruction and recovery of habitat to promote connectivity,” Tolley and her team wrote in their study. “Although part of the Malawi Hills falls within a Key Biodiversity Area (Matandwe Forest Reserve) most of the forest falls outside the reserve boundary, and the effectiveness of the forest reserve is questionable.”

The study was published in the journal Oryx. 

World’s smallest reptile comfortably fits on your fingertip

Brookesia nana. Credit: Frank Glaw.

A tiny male chameleon from Madagascar has now been crowned the world’s smallest reptile. The wee creature measures only half an inch (13.5 millimeters) in length from the snout to its rear-end (not counting the tail), small enough for the chameleon to stay comfortably perched on a human fingertip, despite its disproportionately large genitals.

Evolution favors both the very big and the very small

The chameleon, known as Brookesia nana, was recently described by a team of researchers led by Frank Glaw, a German herpetologist working at the Zoologische Staatssammlung in München.

Glaw is no stranger to novel reptilians. In fact, he is one of the foremost authorities in Madagascarian fauna, having described over 200 species, several of which are named after him.

In 2012, Glaw described Brookesia micra, another tiny reptile native to the islet of Nosy Hara in Madagascar. Perhaps you remember a photo of it perched on the head of a match, which was widely circulated on social media. At the time, the 1.1-inch (29 millimeters) adorable-looking animal was deemed the smallest known chameleon — until now when B. micra made room for B. nana.

A juvenile Brookesia micra standing on the head of a match. Credit: Frank Glaw, Jörn Köhler, Ted M. Townsend, Miguel Vences.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, Glaw and colleagues reported on an “extreme miniaturization of a new amniote vertebrate.” Miniaturization refers to the evolutionary reduction of adult body size. Miniaturized taxa are frequently characterized by a trend towards reduction and simplification of various structures and organs.

In this case,B. nana has been miniaturized compared to a regular-sized chameleon, which can be 50 times larger, almost close to the minimum possible body size. Meanwhile, the world’s largest reptile, the saltwater crocodile, can weigh up to two tons.

However, B. nana isn’t exactly a scaled-down version of a typical chameleon. One of its defining features is its oversized sexual organs, two tubular genitals measuring roughly 18.5% of the animal’s total body size.

Close-up of B. nana‘s hemipenes (reproductive organs). Credit: Frank Glaw, Scientific Reports.

Such is the case for the male, which is surprisingly smaller than the female, the latter measuring 0.7 inches in length (19.2 millimeters). But perhaps this oddly reversed sexual dimorphism will not stand the test of time. The elusive tiny chameleon was described based on only two specimens, a sample size that is woefully small to draw any firm conclusions. What’s more certain is that this species, although just barely discovered, may be threatened by extinction judging by its limited range and challenges in identifying new specimens. 

Chameleons display fluorescent bones on the skull, study shows

The lizard master of disguise is surely a very special creature, we can all agree. Researchers discovered a new outstanding feature of the chameleon: its bones shine with a blue hue in UV light.

Fluorescent tubercles showing sexual dimorphism under UV light at 365 nm (A–D) and fluorescence in further chameleon genera (E–G). (A) Male Calumma crypticum ZSM 32/2016. (B) Female C. crypticum ZSM 67/2005. (C) Male C. cucullatum ZSM 655/2014. (D) Female C. cucullatum ZSM 654/2014. (E) Brookesia superciliaris, male (only UV light at 365 nm). (F) Bradypodion transvaalense, male (dim light and additional UV light at 395 nm). (G) Furcifer pardalis, male (daylight and additional UV light at 365 nm).

Bioluminescence is not that uncommon among marine creatures and some insects (see fireflies), but most terrestrial animals don’t quite possess this eye-endearing feature. The fact that researchers found biogenic fluorescence in chameleons — an entirely earthbound animal — is surprising.

Male C. globifer (ZSM 141/2016) showing congruent tubercle/fluorescent patterns (from left to right); top row: alive in the field under sunlight, micro-CT scan of head surface (probable edge artefact in cheek region), micro-CT scan of the skull; bottom row: alive in the field under UV light, ethanol-preserved under UV light.

Male C. globifer (ZSM 141/2016) showing congruent tubercle/fluorescent patterns (from left to right); top row: alive in the field under sunlight, micro-CT scan of head surface (probable edge artefact in cheek region), micro-CT scan of the skull; bottom row: alive in the field under UV light, ethanol-preserved under UV light.

“We could hardly believe our eyes when we illuminated the chameleons in our collection with a UV lamp, and almost all species showed blue, previously invisible patterns on the head, some even over the whole body,” said David Prötzel, lead author of the new study and a Ph.D. student at the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology (ZSM).

German biologists found that the small bone bumps on chameleons’ heads fluoresce under UV light in a blueish shade. These tiny bone structures absorb UV radiation through small “windows” in the skin and then emit a soft blue light. Actually, the windows are just metaphorical, because the thin epidermis layer that covers the projections is transparent.

After seeing their shimmer under UV-lighting, scientists performed microCT scans and matched the small bone tuberosities to the blue colored pattern.

The fact that bones fluoresce under UV conditions was long-known. But using this phenomenon to intentionally fluoresce different body parts surprised the authors, as it was the first time scientists had encountered such a feature.

Okay, okay, but what’s the deal with all this effort to display such a multitude of colors, even fluorescence?

The myth that chameleons use color-change as camouflage has been debunked. A new theory states that these reptiles use skin color-shifting as a way to communicate with their kin. Taking into consideration that most males from the Calumna genus have significantly more fluorescent tubercles than the females, researchers suppose that their goal is to attract mates. Blue, being a rare color in the forest, should be quite eye-catching in this regard.

The well-known panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) which is also popular as a pet, shows fluorescent crests on the head. (David Prötzel; ZSM/LMU)

Another interesting observation is the distribution of fluorescence among different genera of chameleons. Researchers discovered that forest-living species are more prone to exhibit glowing tubercles than species which live in open environments.

“As shorter (UV, blue) wavelengths are scattered more strongly than longer wavelengths the UV component under the diffuse irradiation in the forest shade is relatively higher compared to the direct irradiation by the sunlight,” the authors write in the journal Nature.

“Consequently, using UV reflections for communication is apparently more common in closed habitats than in open habitats, as has been shown in chameleons of the genus Bradypodion.”

Chameleon tongue

Chameleons use super saliva 400 times stickier than human spit to capture prey

Chameleon tongue

Credit: Flickr user Jugendpresse Deutschland

Besides its remarkable ability to morph with the environment, the chameleon has another amazing weapon that has perplexed biologists: its tongue.

The chameleon launches its lasso-like tongue with an acceleration faster than a jet plane making any prey in its range an inescapable target. Hitting and trapping prey is only the first step — the chameleon then has to retract the prey and ingest it. It does this with great success, but without curling the tongue.

It’s only now that we’re beginning to understand how the lizard can retract its tongue back with the same astonishing speed without losing grip of its lunch. The secret lies in an ultra-sticky saliva that’s 400 times more adhesive than human spit, a new study reveals.

Honey saliva

While most of his colleagues in the field have been focusing on the chameleon’s color-changing ability, Pascal Damman of the University of Mons in Belgium is more interested in the chameleon’s tongue. It’s easy to become mesmerized once you learn a thing or two about chameleon hunting.

The animals stay perfectly motionless for up to hours waiting for unsuspecting prey to come in range. To catch the food, the chameleon will bazooka its tongue to a distance up to two times the body length. That’s equivalent to a human extending his tongue for three meters.

“It’s the equivalent of a human eating a 25-pound hamburger, and then having to transport that burger to your mouth using only your tongue,” said Kiisha Nishikawa, a biomechanics researcher at Northern Arizona University, who was not involved in the study.

Previously, researchers posited the chameleon’s impressive tongue adhesion must have something to do with a suction cup-like tongue tip or even a “Velcro” effect.

Damman and colleagues could not confirm any of these theories. Instead, they decided to experiment with saliva collected from chameleons’ mouths. They placed some of this spit on an inclined plane then rolled a small steel bead down it. Strikingly, the adhesion of the mucus became stronger as the ball rolled faster. “When the tongue pulls rapidly, it makes the adhesion higher,” Damman said.

As it turns out, a chameleon’s spit is as sticky as honey allowing prey to stay on the tongue even as it retracts at 40 Gs, the authors reported in Nature Physics. The same sticky saliva can probably be found in other animals like  salamanders, toads, and frogs, Damman says. “It opens up a new perspective for biologists,” he said.

These ancient lizards trapped in amber will help researchers patch up the incomplete fossil records. Image: David Grimaldi

Oldest chameleon-like lizard found trapped in 100 million-years-old amber

The fossil record abounds with specimens of large animals, but seem to be discriminate against squishier, soft-bodied ones. That’s because fragile bones, let alone tissue, are more vulnerable to the elemental erosion, hence difficult to preserve. New specimens trapped in amber are always a treat for scientists. Usually, you can not only discern a complete skeleton, but also soft tissue like skin or even insect wings. Recently, a treasure trove of a dozen ancient lizards trapped in amber came to scientists’ attention. Everyone was impressed by the pristine preservation, but what particularly caught their eyes was a chameleon-like creature that’s 100 million years old. That’s 78 million years older than the previous record holder.

These ancient lizards trapped in amber will help researchers patch up the incomplete fossil records. Image: David Grimaldi

These ancient lizards trapped in amber will help researchers patch up the incomplete fossil records. Image: David Grimaldi

Initially discovered in a Burmese mine, the fossils remained in private collections until a recent donation to the American Museum of Natural History. Edward Stanley of the University of Florida and colleagues used a micro-CT scanner to image all the fossils trapped in the mid-Cretaceous amber. This allowed the researchers to build complete 3D models of each specimen without actually cutting open the amber.

“These fossils tell us a lot about the extraordinary, but previously unknown diversity of lizards in ancient tropical forests,” Stanley said.

“The fossil record is sparse because the delicate skin and fragile bones of small lizards do not usually preserve, especially in the tropics, which makes the new amber fossils an incredibly rare and unique window into a critical period of diversification.”

The preservation is mind-blowing. Complete specimens were found with all limbs intact, including claws, toepads, teeth, even perfectly intact coloured scales.

These small tropical lizards offer a glimpse into the mid-Cretaceous tropical life. The findings suggest that life in the tropical forest was just as diverse as it is today.

The ancient chameleon relative. Credit: David Grimaldi

The ancient chameleon relative. Credit: David Grimaldi

A dime-sized relative of the modern chameleon was among these animals. The juvenile had ballistic tongues, suggested by the presence of the same bone found in modern chameleons,  but had not yet developed the claw-like fused toes used today to cling to branches. Interestingly, one of the geckos trapped in the amber  already evolved its famous sticky pads which can adhere to virtually any surface.

A 3-D print of a gecko trapped in the same amber. Using CT scans, then printing the models allows researchers to investigate records in greater details -- all without risking ruining the delicate fossils themselves. Image: Florida Museum of Natural History

A 3-D print of a gecko trapped in the same amber. Using CT scans, then printing the models allows researchers to investigate records in greater details — all without risking ruining the delicate fossils themselves. Image: Florida Museum of Natural History

It is thought, based on genetic screenings, that chameleons split from an ancestor called  agamidae sometime around the mid-Cretaceous, but fossils were lacking to support this hypothesis. Stanley says that the newly found chameleon-like lizard challenges the notion that these animals originated from Africa.

According to the  SSC Chameleon Specialist Group (CSG), a third of the world’s chameleon species are threatened with extinction.

“These exquisitely preserved examples of past diversity show us why we should be protecting these areas where their modern relatives live today,” Stanley said.

“The tropics often act as a stable refuge where biodiversity tends to accumulate, while other places are more variable in terms of climate and species. However, the tropics are not impervious to human efforts to destroy them.”

Findings appeared in Science Advances.

Panther chameleon is a biological ninja

Scientists have discovered what they thought to a species of chameleon – but DNA analysis revealed that they were in fact dealing with 11 different species, hiding in plain sight.

Furcifer pardalis, a species of ninja chameleon. Image via Wikipedia.

Furcifer pardalis, a species of ninja chameleon. Image via Wikipedia.

Madagascar is known as one of the areas in the world with the most impressive biodiversity. Even now, researchers are baffled how such a biological hotspot came to be, hosting a unique melange of spectacular species – and they’re finding more and more interesting species every week. Such was the case with a panther chameleon species.

The first panther chameleon was first described by French naturalist Georges Cuvier in 1829. Male panther chameleons can grow up to 20 inches in length, with a typical length of around 17 in (45 cm). Females are smaller, at about half the size. Males are also colored more intensely than females, which generally remain  tan and brown with hints of pink, peach, or bright orange.

Biologists set out to Madagascar to figure out how and why they are able to change between such a broad range of colors, from bright red and orange to a deep green or blue. They documented 324 panther chameleons, which they initially believed to be one single species; but when they got back to the lab and conducted DNA analysis, they realized they were dealing with 11 species!

This answers some questions, but on the other hand, raises even more. It seems that the panther chameleon doesn’t actually have such a broad color variety within the same species. Instead, the confusion seems to be caused by the fact that chameleon species have extremely restricted territories; each territory comes with a specific color palette, though it’s not clear if the colors are chosen specifically to blend in with the environment.

This study is actually more significant than it might seem at a first glance. For starters it highlights once again the stunning biodiversity that Madagascar hosts, but even more importantly, it shows that customized conservation measures have to be taken if we want to protect this biodiversity. There are over 150 species of chameleons in the world, many of which are threatened by reduction of habitat. Hotspots such as Madagascar are especially vulnerable, and different species might have different needs – understanding these needs is crucial for conservation efforts.

Berkeley scientists create material that changes color when pulled or twisted

It’s awesome when engineers can take inspiration from nature and design something truly spectacular – and useful. Now, a Berkeley team has managed to create a material that can shift colors as easy as a chameleon’s skin when pulled or twisted. The material could be used for camouflage or for the next generation of display technologies.

Chameleon-like artificial skin changes colors by applying the slightest force.
The Optical Society

“This is the first time anybody has made a flexible chameleon-like skin that can change color simply by flexing it,” said Connie J. Chang-Hasnain, a member of the UC Berkeley team that published a paper on the technology this week in the journal Optica.

 

The approach they used was physical, as they didn’t tamper with the chemical make-up of the material. Instead of using chemical dyes or pigments to absorb and reflect light in a different way, thus changing colors, engineers manipulated the structure of a silicon film about a thousand times thinner than a human hair (120 nm). They carved rows of tiny ridges — each smaller than a wavelength of light — onto the film, at different wavelengths. Each color has its own specific wavelength, and each of the small carvings is designed to reflect a very specific wavelength, and therefore its corresponding color. The study leader explains:

“If you have a surface with very precise structures, spaced so they can interact with a specific wavelength of light, you can change its properties and how it interacts with light by changing its dimensions,” said Chang-Hasnain.

This is called structural color. Structural coloration is the production of colour by microscopically structured surfaces, also called schemochromes, fine enough to interfere with visible light without the need of pigments. This type of coloration is present in several types of birds and beetles. But rather than reflecting the entire rainbow, the researchers “tuned” the space between the bars to achieve specific colors.

The approach itself is not entirely new. In astronomy, for example, evenly spaced slits known as diffraction gratings are routinely used to direct light and spread it into its component colors. However, efforts to actually control this technique have remained futile and earlier efforts to develop a flexible, color shifting surface failed in a number of aspects. The Berkeley researchers were able to overcome these problems by using a semiconductor layer of silicon approximately 120 nanometers thick, embedding the silicon bars into a flexible layer of silicone. As the silicone was bent or flexed, the period of the grating spacings responded in kind.

The next step would be to create a proof-of-concept large enough for commercial applications.

“The next step is to make this larger-scale and there are facilities already that could do so,” said Chang-Hasnain. “At that point, we hope to be able to find applications in entertainment, security, and monitoring.”

Aside for being used for camouflage or display technologies, this could also be developed into a sensor that indicates structural fatigue and stress for buildings and bridges.

“This is the first time anyone has achieved such a broad range of color on a one-layer, thin and flexible surface,” concluded Change-Hasnain. “I think it’s extremely cool.”

Indeed it is, sir. Indeed it is.

Journal Reference: Li Zhu, Jonas Kapraun, James Ferrara, and Connie J. Chang-Hasnain. Flexible photonic metastructures for tunable coloration. http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OPTICA.2.000255

 

chameleon

How chameleons change color: by changing nanocrystal patterns inside the skin

The chameleon is one of the most remarkable, but also iconic creatures in the animal kingdom. It’s color shifting traits has made it the subject of metaphors. A person who is a master of disguise is rightfully labeled a chameleon. But how does the elusive lizard work its magic? After years of observation and rigorous study, scientists have finally uncovered how they do it. Beneath the outer layer of skin, chameleons have special nanocrystals that are evenly spaced. These reflect light and changing the spacing between the crystals also changes what kind of light gets reflected and eventually hits our eyes. Ultimately, this is how the chameleon turns green from red in a matter of a few minutes, or vice versa.

chameleon

Image: FlChams

Panther chameleons are one of the most colorful chameleon species available today. Native to Madagascar, which is home to about half the world’s 150 or so species of chameleon, they are able to turn a wide variety of colors depending on their locale or the area from which their line originated. For instance, when it encounters a male competitor or mate, the panther chameleon shifts its background color from its typical green to yellow, the blue patterning turns white and the red with lines throughout it body becomes brighter.

For a long time, biologists thought chameleons achieve their color morphing through the dispersion of pigment containing organelles within their skin. The team at University of Geneva, led by Prof Michel Milinkovitch, found this to be false, however. Using spectroscopy on skin grafted from the lizards, the researchers discovered  a layer of cells called iridophores, containing nanocrystals made of guanine, beneath the pigmented skin cells. These cells reflect among others the blue part of incident light. If the upper layer of chromatophores is yellow, the reflected light becomes green (blue plus yellow).

Careful analysis showed that the  guanine nanocrystals are arranged in a lattice (evenly spaced), and the distance between the nanocrystals determines the color of the reflected light. When the chameleon was calm, the crystals were arranged in a dense network which mostly reflected blue light. When threatened or aroused, the pattern was looser by about 30%, allowing the reflection of yellows or reds, as reported in Nature Communications.

Deeper still under the chameleon’s skin, below the iridophores, lies a  layer of dark melanin containing melanophores which influence the lightness of the reflected light. This is how the chameleon changes in hue from pale to dark green for instance.

Together, all of these layers work together to camouflage the chameleon and change color within minutes. Chameleons can’t change to any background though – that’s a myth!

“I’m sorry to say this isn’t true,” said Milinkovitch. “Typically they are extremely well camouflaged in their relaxed state, because they are green against a background of leaves, and they are as noticeable as possible when displaying.”

chameloen_vine

The Chameleon vine: the only plant that morphs host plants near it

The animal kingdom is full of cons – shapeshifter who have learned that to survive, they need look different or mask their appearance altogether. Everyone’s heard of the chameleon, a distinct species of lizard with the  ability to change colours and easily blend to his environment. He’s not alone, though, and frankly he’s not even the most interesting. Mimicking, I find, is a more creative evolutionary path. For instance, the hawk moth caterpillar morphs to resemble a snake in order to scare off predators. What about mimicking and camouflage together? There’s something even better.

chameloen_vine

Inset: normal Boquila trifoliolata leafs. Left and right photos show fraud (red) and host (blue) leafs. Photo: Cell

Meet  Boquila trifoliolata – a vine native to Chile and Argentina only recently discovered and described by biologists. This remarkable vine is like no other plant, and distinguishes itself by the cunning ability to morph its leafs around those of host plants that grow near its branches. Just check out the photo above and prepare to become amazed. The blue arrows indicate the host plant, while the red arrows indicate B. trifoliolata.

What you’re seeing is the vine’s leafs changing in shape, color, size and orientation in response to the host plant. In the second photo, the vine leaf grow to 10 times its normal size to resemble the host leafs. According to the researchers, the B. trifoliolata may have adapted this ability to avoid being eaten by herbivores. It’s unclear, however, how the vine knows how to mimic trees in its vicinity. It may be able to pick up chemical odors or microbes may transport gene-activating signals between the fraud and the host, the researchers hypothesize.

While other plants or animals mimic a single host, this amazing plant is able to do so for multiple hosts. This ability is called polymorphism, and B. trifoliolata is the only plant in the world know so far capable of it.

Findings were reported in the journal Cell.

Tiny chameleon

Smallest chameleon, just ONE inch in size, discovered in Madagascar

Tiny chameleon

A team of German and American researchers have discovered four new species of tiny chameleons on the island of Nosy Hara, just off the northern coast of Madagascar, which considered one of the smallest reptiles known to man. Some are so small they can balance on the tip of a match.

The  four new species fall under the genus Brookesia, or  leaf chameleons as they’re commonly referred to. The smallest of the four, Brookesia micra, measures in at the adult size just 1 inch, or 2.5 centimeters.  This incredibly tiny size came as an effect of “island dwarfism”, which drives some species to become smaller and smaller to adapt and cope with its environment. When faced with limited resources (habitat) and competition, a nifty trick animals employ is to get smaller.

“During the day it is very hard to find the chameleons, because they are very tiny and don’t move very much,” Frank Glaw, scientist at the Zoological State Collection in Munich, Germany, told Reuters TV on Thursday.

“The only way, or the best way, to find them is if you go out at night with headlamps and torches, because in the dusk the chameleons climb up the small plants to sleep,” he said.

[RELATED] Climate change causes animals to shrink

Tiny Chameleon

In the past, giant animals used to roam the Madagascar, however most of them have been driven extinct by humans.

“They went extinct after humans arrived, but the small animals survived,” Graw said. “Big species are vulnerable because they need big habitats and they are hunted by humans.” Small species require relatively few resources and very little space.

The researchers reported their findings in the journal PloS One.

 Photos and story via National Geographic

A new species of chameleon discovered

Dr Andrew Marshall, from the Environment Department at the University of York is the first who spotted a member of the species (and reported it) while surveying monkeys. The meeting however was extremely unfortunate for the chameleon, which was shortly after eaten by a snake.

chameleon-1544

A random chameleon, not from the recently discovered species

The specimen was collected (I really have no idea how), and compared to two other specimens found in the same area. After it was concluded that it was in fact a new species, it was named Kinyongia magomberae (the Magombera chameleon).

Dr. Marshall:

“Discovering a new species is a rare event so to be involved in the identification and naming of this animal is very exciting. Chameleon species tend to be focused in small areas and, unfortunately, the habitat this one depends on, the Magombera Forest, is under threat. Hopefully this discovery will support efforts to provide this area and others like it with greater protection.”

The project in which the doctor is involved is extremely interesting and important, because aside from studying the wildlife, he also teaches the local population how to manage and protect the forest, which is a valuable resource for them, but also the only thing that keeps numerous species alive.