Huge Lizard Discovered in Philippines

Previously Unknown Species Identified on the Island of Luzon

by Patricia Cazares, age 12

A previously unknown lizard species was recently discovered on Luzon, an island in the Philippines. This lizard species is called Varanus bitatawa. It is a gray, six-foot-long monitor lizard with colorful dots and other distinctive markings on its scales. This species is considered unique because their diet is made up of almost entirely fruit.  Most monitor lizards are meat eaters.

While scientists consider this lizard species new, that’s not the case. Native people in the northeastern coastal region of Luzon have known about these lizards for a long time. In fact, they actually eat them. The lizard is also part of their vocabulary.

The lizard first came to the attention of scientists in a photograph. The photo showed a local hunter with a lizard hanging down his back.

No one knows for sure if this species of lizard is endangered, but some in the Philippines are concerned that its numbers may be decreasing. Either way, the intimidating size and bold color patterns of this lizard might well spark interest in protecting it until it can be further studied.   

[Source: New York Times]