The discovery was made after close examination of the new specimen using morphological characteristics and DNA analysis. Taxonomically classified as Varanus lirungensis, the new species “illustrates the high diversity of monitor lizards in Indonesia,” according to André Koch, who found the lizard.
Varanus lirungensis is described in the latest issue of the Australian Journal of Zoology. Discovered on the Talaud Islands, a small Indonesian archipelago, the new species is carnivorous like all other monitor lizards, and it is closely related to the giant Komodo dragon and the crocodile monitor. Researchers were surprised by the discovery, since they had originally arrived to study another species of monitor, the Asian water monitor (Varanus salvator).
The find should help to fill in some crucial gaps of knowledge about how flora and fauna migrated and diverged throughout the Southeast Asian islands, which are home to some of the world’s richest biodiversity.
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