New chameleon species discovered in East Africa (w/ Podcast)

November 23, 2009
This is an image of Kinyongia magomberae (the Magombera chameleon). Credit: University of York

A new species of chameleon has been discovered in Tanzania by a team of scientists.

Dr Andrew Marshall, from the Environment Department at the University of York, first spotted the animal while surveying monkeys in the Magombera when he disturbed a twig snake eating one.

The specimen was collected, tested and compared to two others found by scientists in the same area and has now been named Kinyongia magomberae (the Magombera ) in research published in the African Journal of Herpetology.

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Dr Andrew Marshall, from the Environment Department at the University of York, discusses the discovery of Kinyongia magomberae and his wider work in Tanzania. Credit: University of York

Dr Marshall is co-author of the study alongside researchers from the Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali, the South African National Biodiversity Institute, Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Stellenbosch.

He said: "Discovering a new species is a rare event so to be involved in the identification and naming of this animal is very exciting.

"Chameleon species tend to be focused in small areas and, unfortunately, the habitat this one depends on, the Magombera Forest, is under threat. Hopefully this discovery will support efforts to provide this area and others like it with greater protection."

Dr Marshall, who is also Director of Conservation Science at the Flamingo Land theme park and zoo, is leading a research project investigating changes in the Magombera Forest. The forest is an important resource for people in the area and home to wildlife, including endangered red colobus monkeys.

The project combines research into the biology of the forest with education for local people on how to manage it in a more sustainable way. The ultimate aim is to develop protected status for the forest and find alternative ways of meeting the needs of local communities.

Source: University of York

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