General, Research, Technology

"Extinct" species of chameleons have been found in Madagascar. Why was it difficult to find them?

No matter how scary it was to realize it, but todayextinction of animals is common. Scientists have not seen some living creatures since the beginning of the 20th century and are already considered completely extinct. For example, Voeltskov's chameleons (Furcifer voeltzkowi) were last seen by scientists in 1913. But some researchers still believed that these chameleons could still survive. And all because the duration of their life is very short, so it is very difficult to catch them in adulthood. In 2018 herpetologists went to Madagascar island hopingfind the "extinct" chameleons and, to their surprise, found them. They managed to describe these creatures in the most detail and find out for what other reason they were difficult to find all this time.

Chameleon Voeltzkova (Furcifer voeltzkowi)

Herpetologists - scientists studying amphibians and reptiles. In veterinary medicine, herpetologists treat turtles, iguanas, lizards and snakes.

Chameleons of Madagascar

About the discovery of extinct chameleonswas reported in the scientific journal New Atlas. Scientists are looking for potentially extinct creatures in Madagascar because this island is home to most of the chameleons. They regularly discover new species of these reptiles there - in 2015 alone, 11 new species were discovered. Unfortunately, they are dying out en masse due to active deforestation. The aforementioned Voeltskov chameleons were first discovered in 1893, but scientists could not see them again for almost a hundred years. The conservation organization Global Wildlife Conservation has even listed these creatures as one of the 25 most wanted species of animals.

This list also includes Indo-Chinese nightlifeshark (Pondicherry shark), Assamese flying squirrel (Namdapha flying squirrel) and New Zealand great short-tailed bat (Mystacina robusta). The entire list can be viewed on the organization's website.

A team of researchers led by a herpetologistFrank Glaw started searching for the disappeared chameleons in the province of Mahajanga, located in the northwest of Madagascar. It was there that these creatures were discovered about a hundred years ago. It didn't take long to search, because the creatures changing their color were seen in the garden of one of the hotels. In total, scientists managed to find 3 males and 15 females.

Voeltskov's male chameleons rarely change body color

Not only have scientists been able to discoverrepresentatives of the species of chameleons considered extinct, so they also first described the females of these creatures. It turned out that males remain green most of the time, while females actively change their color. It is noteworthy that they need a change in skin tone not only for disguise - body color also plays an important role in communication.

Found chameleons can fit in the palm of your hand

You can read more about how chameleons change their color and why they do it in an article on our channel in Yandex.Zen.

Chameleon lifespan

On top of all this, scientists once againconfirmed that Voeltskov's chameleons live very little. According to their calculations, the life span of chameleons is less than one year. Young individuals hatch from eggs in October-November, during the rainy season in Madagascar. They grow very quickly and begin to reproduce. About a year later, by the beginning of the dry season, the adults die, leaving behind a clutch of eggs. It turns out that in Madagascar, Voeltskov's chameleons can be found only in certain several months. And that is why they were not visible for a long time - scientists simply could not catch this moment. However, ordinary people probably met them, they just did not know that they were of great interest to scientists.

At the moment, scientists want to find out where elseVoeltskov's chameleons can live. They believe that these creatures can live outside the province of Mahajanga, but no further than 100 kilometers from it. Considering the deforestation in Madagascar, the animals should be found and protected as soon as possible.

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Some species of animals have long been consideredextinct, but then they are re-discovered. For example, in 2019, deer-like animals were found in Vietnam, referred to as silver chevroteins (Tragulus vericolor). You can read more about them in this article. Pay attention to the photos, these are cute creatures the size of a domestic cat!