THREE NEW RAINBOW CHAMELEON SPECIES DISCOVERED
More than 420 reptile species live in the mountains of Madagascar, but an expedition carried out by researchers from the Zoologische Staatssammlung in Munich has yielded a surprise: three new brightly coloured species of chameleon.
The rainbow-hued Calumma uetzi was found in the remote mountains on northern Madagascar and is at its most impressive when trying to attract a mate. The males turn a flashy shade of yellow, streaked with violet and red, and if the female is unimpressed, she’ll darken her own skin to almost black.
Females from another new species, Calumma juliae, were found in a threatened 15-hectare forest fragment beside one of the island’s main roads.
“We hope that this area can be protected as soon as possible,” said researcher David Prötzel. “Recent imagery from Google Earth shows that, since our discovery of this chameleon just two years ago, a significant area of its tiny home has already been lost to deforestation.”
The third species is called Calumma lefona, and so far, only a single male has been found. Through X-ray scanning, the researchers found a large hole in the roof of its skull, directly over the brain. A similar hole has been seen in six other chameleon species, all of which live more than 1,000m above sea level. Researchers aren’t sure exactly what the hole is for, but they think it might help the chameleon regulate its temperature.
“Based on everything we know about these species, they all have very small distribution ranges,” said Dr Frank Glaw, head of the institute’s Herpetology Section. “But many new protected areas are now being established in Madagascar, which will certainly be important for the future of Madagascar’s unique diversity.”
“THE MALES TURN A FLASHY SHADE OF YELLOW, STREAKED WITH VIOLET AND RED”
Calummauetzi is one of three new species of chameleon discovered in Madagascar