June 22, 2024

Newly Discovered Iguana Species Unveiled in China: Wang’s Garden Lizard

A remarkable addition to Asia’s diverse reptile ecosystem, a new species of iguana has been officially identified and described in the scientific journal ZooKeys. The discovery came after years of field surveys conducted between 2009 and 2022 in South China, during which a number of specimens from the Calotes versicolor species complex were collected. It was subsequently discovered that the population previously believed to be Calotes versicolor in South China and Northern Vietnam was, in fact, an entirely new species along with two subspecies, as revealed by Yong Huang and his team.

Dubbed Wang’s garden lizard (Calotes wangi), this newly uncovered iguana measures less than 9 cm in length, with one of its distinguishing characteristics being its vibrant orange tongue.

Calotes wangi is primarily found in subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forests and tropical monsoon forests of southern China and northern Vietnam. They predominantly inhabit mountainous areas, hills, and forest fringes, but can also be observed in arable land, shrub lands, and even urban green belts. When faced with danger, these lizards swiftly retreat to bushes or scale tree trunks to conceal themselves. Research indicates that they rest on sloping shrub branches at night, tucking close to the branches for enhanced security, according to Yong Huang’s findings.

These iguanas demonstrate a peak of activity between April and October annually, which extends even further into the year in tropical regions, ranging from March to November, or possibly longer. Their diet consists of a varied assortment of insects, spiders, and other arthropods. While the newly discovered species is currently not considered endangered, researchers caution that its habitat is fragmented in certain locales.

In addition to their newfound ecological significance, the lizards have been utilized for medicinal purposes and as a source of food, as detailed in the research paper by Yong Huang and his team. Consequently, the researchers advocate for intensified efforts by local governments to safeguard their habitat and monitor population dynamics closely.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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