Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 24th, 2009
A new species of chameleon has been discovered in Tanzania by a team of scientists.
Dr. Andrew Marshall, from the Environment Department at the University of York, first spotted the animal while surveying monkeys in the Magombera Forest when he disturbed a twig snake eating one.
The specimen was collected, tested and compared to two others found by scientists in the same area and has now been named Kinyongia magomberae (the Magombera chameleon) in research published in the African Journal of Herpetology.
Dr. Marshall is co-author of the study alongside researchers from the Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali, the South African National Biodiversity Institute, Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Stellenbosch.
“Discovering a new species is a rare event so to be involved in the identification and naming of this animal is very exciting. Chameleon species tend to be focused in small areas and, unfortunately, the habitat this one depends on, the Magombera Forest, is under threat. Hopefully this discovery will support efforts to provide this area and others like it with greater protection,” said Andrew Marshall.
”I’ve been working in Tanzania for around 11 years now and have identified a couple of new tree species, but to find a vertebrate is pretty special. Obviously chameleons are very well camouflaged. You walk through the forest and tend not to see them,” he said.
Dr. Marshall, who is also Director of Conservation Science at the Flamingo Land theme park and zoo, is leading a research project investigating changes in the Magombera Forest. The forest is an important resource for people in the area and home to wildlife, including endangered red colobus monkeys.
Source: ”A new species of chameleon (Sauria: Chamaeleonidae: Kinyongia) from the Magombera forest and the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Tanzania” is published in volume 58(2) of the African
Journal of Herpetology.