Six new lizard species discovered

Reptile-rich cloud forest in Panama hardly explored so far

The new species Anolis pseudokemptoni © Senckenberg Research Institute
Read out

Most scientists will experience this only once in their lives - if at all: an expedition in the highlands of Panama discovered four new lizard species within 24 hours. Two other, also previously undescribed species were discovered during the same expedition in the lowlands.

Dr. Gunther Köhler, head of herpetology at the Senckenberg Research Institute, led the expedition. As he says, a new species is always discovered on expeditions. "But four new discoveries within 24 hours were a spectacular discovery for all of us. You probably experience this only once in your life, "says the Frankfurt reptile expert. The new species were discovered in the Serranía de Tabasará at about 2, 000 meters altitude.

Panama is known for its climatic and scenic versatility. Despite the relatively small area of ​​about 77, 000 square kilometers, the parallel to the coasts of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea of ​​the Central American Cordillera is the most diverse and richest region of Central America in reptiles and amphibians.

Genus Anolis was added

Since at the time of the expedition there were already 31 representatives of the reptilian genus Anolis known, it initially surprised the scientists to find in the cloud forest of the Serranía de Tabasará within a single day four previously unknown species. The comparison with other representatives of the genus Anolis has then dispelled all doubt.

Anolis gruuo © Research Institute Senckenberg

As usual, Anolis gruuo, Anolis pseudokemptoni, Anolis pseudopachypus and Anolis datzorum, the scientific name of the four new species, have received their names from their discoverers who have recently presented and detailed the four new findings from the Serranía de Tabasará in the specialist publication "Herpetologica" have described. The four new lizards will now be added to the list of other species occurring exclusively in the region. display

K hler and his colleagues suspect that there are still unknown species in the region. The Serran a de Tabasar is still poorly sampled, but has a large variety of reptiles and amphibians. Therefore, it is not unlikely that a high proportion of so-called endemic living, so only occurring in this region can be found here, says the director of herpetology at the Research Institute Senckenberg.

Anolis datzorum Senckenberg Research Institute

Last cloud forest retreats threatened

In their publication, the authors also describe that the Pacific slope of the Panamanian mountain range is already 90 percent used for agriculture or forestry, while the Atlantic side is still largely covered by a cloud forest. Its originality, which for the most part remains natural, has so far been broken only by a small but growing number of agricultural enterprises.

However, further deforestation would also adversely affect the hitherto largely intact habitat. Therefore, it has been recommended that the region in the highlands of Panama should be designated as a particularly valuable area because of its high cological value.

(Research Institute Senckenberg, 08.02.2008 - NPO)