Madagascar Chameleon Rediscovered After A 100 Years

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Equipped with flashlights and headlamps, a researcher team searched the entire night for an elusive Madagascar chameleon species. Its name is Voeltzkow’s chameleon (or, scientifically, Furcifer voeltzkowi). Calling the Madagascar chameleon elusive would be an understatement, as it had not been seen for over a century.

But the team was successful on the expedition’s sixth day. However, the chameleon was not found in a forest. Instead, its home was an uncultivated, huge garden in a hotel.

Frank Glaw led the expedition. He is also the Vertebrates Department Head at the Bavarian State Zoology Collection. He said that they were relieved, happy, and excited all at the same time. Of course, it was a happy conclusion as well.

In their search, the team located 15 females and 3 males. The Madagascar chameleons were happily roosting on branches close to the hotel. But the team made another discovery. The females could change the color of their skins into many vibrant shades.

The Vibrant Madagascar Chameleon

Glaw explained that sleeping females at night are usually dull. They are usually green when they are relaxed. But if they meet another male or are excited when petted by humans, their patterns quickly become contrasting. The predominant shades are blue, black, and white. He thinks that if the females are carrying fertilized eggs, the change intensifies.

The findings of the 2018 expedition were only published recently in Salamandra, a scientific journal in Germany. The paper compares a Voeltzkow’s chameleon with its believed-to-be close cousin, a Labord’s chameleon. Both are thought to be alive for a short number of months when the season for rain is at its height.

Read: The Highlighter Green Broadbill Is Not Extinct: Spotted In Singapore

Glaw added that this brevity might be a reason why the Madagascar chameleon is so elusive. The study suggests that it should be categorized as endangered by the IUCN. However, the IUCN is yet to officially evaluate it.

Glaw explains that species that are not spotted for such a long time possibly face serious extinction threats. So the earlier it is classified, the higher the chances of conservation. Don Church, a leader in the program searching for species that are lost, said that this discovery rekindles hope even in the face of everything seemingly being lost.

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