Three new species of dragon-like wood lizards have been discovered by researchers in Ecuador and Peru among the Andean cloud forests of South America's mountain range, local media reported on Monday.
The three new species of wood-lizards, that is, Enyalioides altotambo, Enyalioides anisolepis and Enyalioides sophiarothschildae, were found in a one-million-square-kilometer area that bounds both sides of the Andes in Ecuador and Peru.
Publishing the findings in the journal Zookeys, Omar Torres- Carvajal from Museo de Zoologia QCAZ in Ecuador, Pablo Venegas from CORBIDI, Peru, and Kevin de Queiroz from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in the U.S. realized that they had discovered three new species.
The researchers heard local people and other biologists talk about species of small dragon-like lizards never seen before. The scientists acquired live specimens of the three new species with the help of local people. The new lizards were verified as new species by a comparison of their DNA to the DNA of known species of Enyalioides.
In 2006, only six species of wood-lizards had been identified. The number of known species of wood-lizards now stands at 15.
"During the last few years we doubled the number of known species of wood-lizards, showing that the diversity of these conspicuous reptiles had been underestimated," said Torres- Carvajal. "That more than half of the diversity of a group of large, dragon-looking reptiles from South America has been discovered in recent years should be heard by people in charge of conservation and funding agencies."