3 New Kinds of Pocket-Sized 'Dragons' Found

Andes cloud forests yield spiky, colorful lizards
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2015 4:38 AM CDT
3 New Kinds of Pocket-Sized 'Dragons' Found
A male Enyalioides sophiarothschildae, one of the three new species discovered.   (Pablo J. Venegas)

Even in the year 2015, and even with widespread destruction of the world's wilderness, zoologists who look hard enough can still find new species of dragons—the dwarf kind, at least. Researchers combing the cloud forests of the Andes in Ecuador and Peru have uncovered three new kinds of small, spiky, and colorful wood lizards that strongly resemble mythical creatures, although they're only around 5 inches long if you don't count the tail, the Smithsonian reports. The discoveries bring the number of known wood lizard species to 15, with eight of those discovered in the last seven years, reports NBC News.

The number of "dwarf dragons" found in recent years is striking since they're "among the largest and most colorful lizards in South American tropical forests and [their discovery] is most likely the result of recent fieldwork in poorly explored areas of the central and northern Andes," the researchers write in the journal ZooKeys. The fact that the area has yielded so many new species of wood lizard suggests there are more to be found and shows the need for conservation efforts in the region, which has some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet, the researchers say in a press release. (Researchers in LA, meanwhile, have found 30 new species of fly.)

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