Friday, 23 June 2017

Three new chameleon species discovered from Democratic Republic of the Congo - via Herp Digest

PTI, 6/20/17, Washington, D.C. Scientists have identified three new species of chameleons, after studying a trio of reptiles earlier thought to belong to the same species.

The specimens were collected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 2009 and 2014.

Researchers from University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) were able to describe the three new chameleon species after carefully analysing geographical, morphological, and DNA data.

The reptile trio, historically thought to be a single species, was found in different parts of the Albertine Rift in Central Africa.

“We had this really nice dataset with samples collected all throughout the range of a particular species which meant we could really figure out its true diversity,” said Daniel Hughes from UTEP.

“We took to the next step and ultimately described three new species,” Hughes said.

Two of the chameleons were named Rugege Highlands Forest Chameleon (Kinyongia rugegensis) and Itombwe Forest Chameleon (Kinyongia itombwensis) – after the mountain ranges in which they were found.

The third chameleon, Tolley’s Forest Chameleon (Kinyongia tolleyae), was named after herpetologist Krystal Tolley, principal scientist at the South African National Biodiversity Institute, who has contributed significantly to chameleon research.

There are 206 described species of chameleons on the planet and Hughes hopes to continue finding many more.

The research was published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

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