NEW SPECIES DISCOVERED IN ECUADOR
El Comercio Report:
Scientists have discovered 57 new species of reptiles and amphibians in Ecuador!
The ZooKeys magazine unveiled one of their discoveries to the world in May 2014 and National Geographic magazine described it as 'The New Jewel of Ecuador'. This is the Alopoglossus viridiceps, a species of lizard whose name is derived from the Spanish meaning "Fox Lizard with a Green Head". The animal, which was collected in 2010 in the cloud forest reserve Saint Lucia (Nanegal), spent nearly four years in the laboratories of the Pontifica Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE) waiting for it's turn to jump to fame! Alopoglossus viridiceps is one of 57 species discovered between 2009 and 2015 as part of the National Program for Taxonomic and Genetic Characterization of Biological Diversity in Ecuador, "Noah 's Ark", an initiative led by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (Senescyt). During these seven years, scientists of the program (which has had a budget of $5.5 million) have been focused on working with reptiles and amphibians.
On average, seven new species of amphibians and reptiles have been discovered each year for the last seven years. According to the organisation Animal Planet, every year about 18,000 species are discovered in the world. In this vein, Ecuador has contributed 0.04% of the findings. At first glance, the data may be insignificant in the global context, but not for Mario Yanez, who believes that the work of these years serves to enlighten the world to the species of Ecuador. In 2014, he participated in the description of the Anolis Poei, a lizard whose research took approximately three years to complete.
Adult male Alopoglossus viridiceps. © 2014 Tropical Herping
Above: Adult Male Anolis Poei (Image used from http://zoologia.puce.edu.ec/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=111976)
THE OLUNGUITO 2013
The Olinguito (Spanish for "little olingo") is a mammal of the raccoon family, Procyonidae, that lives in the Montane Cloud Forests of the Andes in western Colombia and Ecuador. The species was described as new in 2013. The species name neblina is Spanish for fog or mist, referring to the Cloud Forest habitat of the Olinguito.
THE SHAPE SHIFTING FROG 2015
This species, found in Ecuador, can change the texture of its skin in a matter of minutes. The animal, found in a park called Reserva Las Gralarias in north-central Ecuador's Andean Cloud Forest, alters its skin to resemble its background. This allows it to blend in and hide from predators. Their epidermis can take on the texture of smooth wood, fuzzy moss and spiky sticks. When it was first discovered by wife and husband researchers Katherine and Tim Krynak from Case Western Reserve University, the frog’s skin boasted little spines. But when Katherine Krynak placed it in a white cup, it changed its texture to smooth and light-coloured.
A picture illustrating how the frog, which was discovered in the Andes, can change texture.
(ZOOLOGICAL JOURNAL OF THE LINNEAN SOCIETY)
DWARF DRAGONS 2015
Three new species of “ dwarf dragons,” also known as wood lizards, have been found in the Andean Cloud Forests of Ecuador and Peru. Unfortunately, the species don’t breathe fire, but they are cute and resemble miniature versions of the mythical beasts. Researchers named the new creatures the Alto Tambo wood lizard (Enyalioides altotambo), rough-scaled wood lizard (E. anisolepis), and Rothschild's wood lizard (E. sophiarothschildae). That brings the total number of species to 15, nearly twice the number of known species in 2006.
Enyalioides sophiarothschildae, one of the three new species of dwarf dragons discovered in the Andes of Peru and Ecuador.
PABLO J. VENEGAS