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Colorful New Lizard Species Discovered in Vietnam (Photo)

Jan 18, 2013 06:52 AM EST

A colorful new lizard species (Photo) has been discovered in southern Vietnam.

The new species, named Calotes bachae, was initially thought to be a known blue lizard species (Calotes mystaceus) from Myanmar and Thailand.

But a genetic analysis and comparison of the reptiles' morphological traits confirmed that the Calotes bachae was indeed a distinct species.

The discovery was made by a team of Russian and German scientists during a survey of reptiles and amphibians in Vietnam's Cat Tien National Park.

Samples of the lizard collected in the survey were sent to Russian scientists who are working on a DNA bar-coding database of all the reptiles and amphibians found in Vietnam. When they compared the DNA of Calotes bachae with that of Calotes mystaceus, they noticed significant genetic differences between the two species.

"The lizards were well known by the Vietnamese and scientists as well, but until now they were confused with another blue lizard species known from Myanmar and Thailand. By a genetic comparison, the German-Russian research team revealed that the Vietnamese lizards are a distinct new species," lead author Timo Hartmann, a Ph.D. candidate at the Herpetology Department at the Museum Koenig in Bonn, Germany, told Sci-News. 

The new lizard species can measure up to 11 inches in length. The reptile features a bright turquoise in color and during mating season, the male's head shines bright in order to attract females. The lizard also changes its color during the night, appearing in dark brown color. It has light brown blotches on its back and a yellowish moustache on its face. This is different from the Calotes mystaceus species, which has dark brown spots along with white moustache, reports National Geographic.

In addition to Cat Tien National Park, the new lizard species can be found in the tropical forests in Bu Gia Map National Park and also in parks in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.

The details of the findings of the study appear in the journal Zootaxa.

The findings have come just days after a new species of flying frog, named Helen's Tree frog, was also discovered near Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, as part of an amphibian survey.

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