Godzilla Lizards Found
Recently, three new species of “Godzilla lizards” were found in the Andes. Does this mean that Godzilla is more than just a fictitious character? Well, these new species of Godzillas are only small ones. The mini-Godzillas are multi-colored lizards, featuring jagged crests on their heads that have some people seeing a resemblance to Godzilla, but only pint-sized versions. The new species were discovered in Peru and Ecuador, in the Andes region’s tropical rainforests. This highlights the rich biodiversity of the region which may still have many reptiles (and other animals) that people have not discovered yet. One of the members of the team that made the discovery, Omar Torres Carvajal, commented that the number of reptile species yet to be found is thought to be truly incredible.
The new species are named: Enyalioides anisolepis, Enyalioides sophiarothschildae and Enyalioides altotambo. All three are featuring striking colors and morphology: protruding scales, shiny backs and serrated crests. All three of them are capable of growing up to 16 inches (40 centimeters) long. This recent discovery adds to the quantity of known Enyalioides genus species. With the recent additions, the count is now 15. All 15 are found in the same region from Panama to Northern Bolivia, most of them were discovered in Peru and Ecuador.
One of the co-authors of an article published about the discovery, Pablo Venegas, from the Ornithology and Biodiversity Center in Peru, stated that their knowledge about the reptile diversity in the areas is limited. He admitted that they still do not have an idea about the total number of species there. Searching for reptiles in the jungle environment is made more difficult due to the farming and logging that is taking place in the are. The scientists feel they are racing against time as the habitat is destroyed. As of now, Ecuador is the home to a total of 190 known lizard species and there are 213 in Peru.
The recently discovered species are known simply as stick/tree lizards (“lagartijas de palo”) among the locals. They are also referred to as “midget dragons”. They sleep clinging to tree trunks and are camouflaged by the trees and jungle vegetation.
Ten years ago the team of researchers found the first of the species, the E. altotambo, in the forests of Ecuador, in the Esmaraldas province. But they weren't quite sure about what they found. Five years later, another specimen of that species was found at Alto Tambo, not too far from the capital of Quito. Then the second species, the E. anisolepis, was found in the foothills of the Andes Mountains near the border of Peru and Ecuador. The last one was found in San Martin, Peru. Finally, after DNA studies and an analysis of the physical characteristics of the lizards, they realized they had found previously unknown species and published their findings. Is it possible the Andes is hiding another species as large as the well-known monster? If so, lets hope that nobody makes them angry! because Tokyo and San Francisco would rather not be disturbed by giant lizard attacks.