Scientists Discover 24 New Lizard Species in the Caribbean

May 2, 2012 / No Comments

A new variety of creatures belonging to the lizard family has been discovered in Caribbean islands. The discovery includes 24 species of lizards. According to the lead study researcher Blair Hedges, a professor of biology at Penn State University, half of the newbies may be extinct or close to extinction, with the others are threatened with extinction.

Lizard Scientists Discover 24 New Lizard Species in the Caribbean

The research funded by the National Science Foundation has been published in the April 30 issue of the journal Zootaxa..

The skink species were identified from museum specimens.The researchers examined the specimens using DNA and the appearances of the animals, including the number and shape of their scales, to identify them.

The total number of species identified is 39. Of these, six were already known and nine had been named long ago, but not considered valid until now.

The researchers assume that the lizards have been around for a while, but the small population may have led the science world to believe that it was the same old species.

Skink lizards make a placenta and gestate offspring for up to one year unlike the other kind of lizards that give live birth. This ability to produce the placenta is something human like, and this made the species popular. This particular species arrived in the Americas about 18 million years ago from Africa.

The study also argues that the small Indian mongoose (Urva auropunctata) introduced by farmers in the 19th century to control rats in sugarcane fields is responsible for the loss of many skink species.