Scientists Discover a Chameleon That Was Last Seen 100 Years Ago

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Image credit: SNSB Kathrin Glaw

Researchers Find a Chameleon That Was Last Observed One Hundred Years Ago

This chameleon’s remarkable camouflage has kept it hidden for more than a century. That is, until now.

Several live Voeltzkow’s chameleons were found by scientists from Germany and Madagascar while visiting the northwest of the African island nation.

The first images of the extinct chameleon species are shown in this film.

A team lead by specialists from the Bavarian Natural History Collections ZSM published an article in the journal Salamandra describing a genetic investigation that showed the species is closely related to Labord’s chameleon.

Only in Madagascar is the semelparous Labord’s chameleon (Furcifer labordi) found. At about 4 to 5 months, its lifetime is the shortest of any four-legged vertebrate ever recorded. The Voeltzkow’s chameleon is similar to other chameleons in that aspect.

Scientists have discovered that both reptiles only live during the rainy season. They hatch from eggs, grow quickly, fight with competitors, mate, and then perish in a few short months.

The curator of amphibians and reptiles at the ZSM, Frank Glaw, described these creatures as “virtually vertebrates’ mayflies.”

Image credit: SNSB/Frank Glaw

The research team observed that the female of the species, which had never been seen previously, formed remarkably vivid patterns when she was pregnant, when she saw males, and when she felt nervous.

mage credit: SNSB/Frank Glaw


Deforestation is a threat to the Voeltzkow’s chameleon’s environment, according to researchers.

Image credit: SNSB Kathrin Glaw

The destruction of forests cannot be concealed by the best camouflage.


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