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New Lizard Species Discovered in Madagascar

Jan 16, 2013 06:26 AM EST

A new species of lizard has been discovered in the north-western forests of Madagascar.

A team of international scientists led by France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNSR) found the worm-like lizard living underground in the forests of Madagascar. The team named the new species as "Moby Dick" mermaid skink, as it has flipper-like forelimbs and lacks pigmentation, according to a report in Agence France-Presse news agency.

The lizard Sirenoscincus mobydick lacks hindlimbs and its eyes have almost disappeared. The species is named after the albino sperm whale imagined in an adventure novel authored by Herman Melville.

According to CNSR, the lizard species has a unique combination of features found in amphibians, reptiles and birds.

The details of the findings appear in the journal Zoosystema.

Madagascar has a diverse habitat, ranging from tropical rainforests and deciduous dry forests, to mangrove forests. According to the wildlife conservation society, the island, which separated from mainland Africa some 200 million years ago, hosts a wide variety of wildlife species that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. 

The island harbors 346 species of reptiles, of which 90 percent are endemic. Last year in February, researchers discovered one of the world's tiniest lizards in Madagascar.

The tiny lizard, a miniature chameleon called Brookesia micra, was found to be just slightly more than one inch in length.

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