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Animal Scene - - SCALY SPECIAL -

Al­though western sci­en­tists “dis­cov­ered” the North­ern Sierra Madre for­est mon­i­tor (Varanus bi­tatawa) only re­cently, the species was al­ready well known to lo­cal in­dige­nous peo­ple liv­ing in and around Casig­u­ran, Aurora, re­ported Jonathan Mayuga in a 2018 Busi­ness Mir­ror ar­ti­cle.

The in­dige­nous Is­nag of Apayao even have a lo­cal name for the tree-dwelling Varanus bi­tatawa: lopi, dif­fer­ent from the lo­cal name of the com­mon mon­i­tor lizard or bayawak com­monly found on the ground, which

they call banyas. This in­di­cates that the species, which is a dis­tinc­tive food of the Aeta and Ilon­got in­dige­nous peo­ple of the Philip­pines as re­ported by Su­san Mil­ius in a 2010 Sci­ence News re­port, have been thriv­ing in North­ern Cordillera all this time.

A close rel­a­tive of the Ko­modo dragon (Varanus ko­mo­d­oen­sis), the unique for­est mon­i­tor was for­mally de­scribed as a new species in 2010. They are known by the lo­cal names bi­tatawa, bar­i­tatawa, and bu­tikaw.

1 1. One of the first pho­to­graphs in life of the newly dis­cov­ered Varanus bi­tatawa from Barangay Dibu­luan, San Mar­i­ano. Photo from https://com­mons.wiki­me­dia.org/wiki/file:varanus_bi­tatawa_(ku_322188)_ from_barangay_dibu­luan,_san_­mar­i­ano_-_zookeys-266-001-g069.jpg / Brown R, Siler C, Oliveros C, Wel­ton L, Rock A, Swab J, Van Weerd M, van Bei­j­nen J, Ro­driguez D, Jose E, Dies­mos A (2013). "The am­phib­ians and rep­tiles of Lu­zon Is­land, Philip­pines, VIII: The her­peto­fauna of Ca­gayan and Is­abela Prov­inces, north­ern Sierra Madre Moun­tain Range". Zookeys 266: 1. Doi:10.3897/zookeys.266.3982.

2 2. Ko­modo dragon, Varanus ko­mo­d­oen­sis

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