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