Friday, 20 September 2013

Four New Species of 'Legless Lizards' Discovered Living On the Edge

Sep. 18, 2013 — California biologists have discovered four new species of reclusive legless lizards living in some of the most marginal habitat in the state: a vacant lot in downtown Bakersfield, among oil derricks in the lower San Joaquin Valley, on the margins of the Mojave desert, and at the end of one of the runways at LAX.

"This shows that there is a lot of undocumented biodiversity within California," said Theodore Papenfuss, a reptile and amphibian expert, or herpetologist, with UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, who discovered and identified the new species with James Parham of California State University, Fullerton. The discoveries raise the number of California legless lizard species from one to five.

The herpetologists named the new snake-like lizards after four legendary UC Berkeley scientists: museum founder Joseph Grinnell, paleontologist Charles Camp, philanthropist and amateur scientist Annie Alexander and herpetologist Robert C. Stebbins, at 98 the only one of the group still alive.

"These are animals that have existed in the San Joaquin Valley, separate from any other species, for millions of years, completely unknown," said Parham, who obtained his doctorate from Berkeley and is now curator of paleontology at the John D. Cooper Archaeology and Paleontology Center. "If you want to preserve biodiversity, it is the really distinct species like these that you want to preserve."

Papenfuss and Parham reported their discovery this month in the journal Breviora, a publication of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.

No comments:

Post a comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

ShareThis