A new iguana species has been discovered in China, by a research team investigating a different species.
The iguana, now known as Wang’s garden lizard (Calotes wangi), is less than 9cm long and has a distinctive orange tongue.
The research team, from Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine, had been conducting field surveys in South China when they found the new iguana. However, samples they had been collecting of the oriental garden lizard (Calotes versicolor) were later discovered to be part of a new, undescribed species and two subspecies.
Analysis revealed the species was formed as a monophyletic group, and displayed considerable genetic divergence between organisms of the same genus.
Calotes wangi can be found in the subtropical, broad-leaved forests and the tropical monsoon forests of southern China and northern Vietnam. They were mostly in mountainous areas, hills and plains on forest edges, shrub lands, arable lands and urban green belts.
The species is active from April to October each year, but can remain active from March to November, or longer, in tropical regions. It eats a variety of insects, spiders and other arthropods.
While the new species is not considered to be threatened, there were some areas of its habitat which were fragmented and their bodies are used medicinally.
The researchers have suggested that local governments work to strengthen protection of the iguana’s ecological environment, and pay closer attention to its population dynamics.
Yong Huang, whose team described the species, said: “It is active at the edge of the forest, and when it is in danger, it rushes into bushes or climbs tree trunks to hide.
“Investigations found that the lizards lie on sloping shrub branches at night, sleeping close to the branches.”
The full study can be found in the journal ZooKeys.
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