Monday, 27 December 2010

Leapin’ lizards! KU graduate student discovers a new species

The Associated Press

A University of Kansas graduate student was on the hunt for a new lizard species and found it in Vietnam — on a restaurant menu.

A colleague in Vietnam told Jesse Grismer last year about the possibility of a new species in Vietnam and sent him photos and tissue samples. Grismer tested the samples for mitochondrial DNA and realized they were probably dealing with something new.

Grismer went to Vietnam in search of the lizard with his father, Lee Grismer, a biology professor at La Sierra University in Riverside, Calif. They headed to a restaurant in the Ca Mau region on Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, where they had heard the lizard was on the menu.

The restaurant was all out of the lizard meat, but Grismer said he did eventually taste the new species of lizard, which they named after the scientist and family friend in Vietnam, Ngo Van Tri, who told them about it. It’s called Leilolepis ngovantrii.

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