New lizard species discovered in Laos and Madagascar

They are masters of camouflage – you can’t spot them unless they move.

A new dragon lizard species has been added to the wildlife chart in 2023 after its accidental discovery in the Laos province of Khammouan. Only two individuals, both male, have been seen until now due to their extraordinary ability to camouflage and stay still for a long time. One was spotted during a bird photography trip and the other during a tourist tour, when something distracted them and they moved.

The Laos species has acquired the name Laodracon carsticola and belongs to the mainland Asia subfamily Draconinae, and the team that published a study dedicated to the newly-discovered creature in the journal Zoological Research referred to it more commonly as the Khammouan Karst Dragon. 

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The new species measures around 10 centimeters long and has slate gray and black scales with blue coloration on their throats and blue/gray bellies.

The body scales are pronouncedly rough that serve to climb the steep limestone pinnacles on which it lives. They feed on ants and possible other insects.

According to locals, the Khammouan Karst Dragon is most active between 9 and 11 a.m. and 3 and 5 p.m. As they were never seen anywhere other than the limestone karts of Laos, which are their habitat, the researchers believe this could be the sole population of Laodracon carsticola lizards in the world, note the participating authors from Laos, Russia, Thailand, and China.

The Khammouan Karst Dragon doesn’t have a Wikipedia page yet.

Cousin in Madagascar

Another genius of disguise is Uroplatus garamaso, a species of lizard in the family Gekkonidae. Populating northern Madagascar, the leaf-tailed gecko was first discovered in 2000 and initially was not recognized as a distinct species. Only last year it deserved a classification of its own, following years of research.

The team behind this project said in a statement that the species Uroplatus garamaso (pictured above) was confused with another species, Uroplatus henkeli. The new species is a little smaller (20 cm long) but has a narrower tale. 

During the day, they rest head-down on tree trunks with these skin flaps around the whole body and head spread out, and blend seamlessly into their surroundings, making them nearly impossible to spot. At night, they awaken to prowl the fine branches of the understory looking for invertebrate prey.

The study on the Madagascar lizards was published in 2023 in the German Journal of Herpetology.

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