New lizard species discovered by Rapid Assessment Program in Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area
Phnom Penh, Cambodia — Scientists announced today the
discovery of a never-before-seen skink in Cambodia which is characterized by its
very short legs, long tail and striking iridescent skin. The skink was found
during a Rapid Assesment Program expedition in northeast Cambodia led by Fauna & Flora International (FFI), in
partnership with Conservation International (CI)
between February and March of 2010.
The skink, described in a paper published this month by
Zootaxa, was named Lygosoma veunsaiensis to honor the Veun
Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area in Ratanakiri where it was found. It is the
latest in a string of new species discovered in this area, including Walston's tube-nosed bat (Murina
walstoni) and the northern yellow-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus
The skink is unusual in having extremely short limbs and a very long tail,
considerably longer than its body. In sunlight a refracting quality to the
scales creates a rainbow-like effect along its body.
"This is the third new species in the last two years to be discovered in Veun
Sai," said Ben Rawson the Conservation International site manager. "Last year a
new type of bat was found here, and in 2010 a new gibbon species was described.
Naming this new skink Lygosoma veunsaiensis is a nice tribute to the
area's biological value."
"These creatures are difficult to find because they spend so much of their
life underground," said Neang Thy, a Cambodian national working for FFI and the
first herpetologist to see the new skink. "Some similar species are known from
only a few individuals. We were very lucky to find this one."
"Three decades of conflict effectively prevented herpetological
investigations until the late 1990s, but Cambodia is proving a biodiversity hot
spot for new discoveries, especially new reptiles," said Peter Geissler from
Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig in Germany, and one of the
authors who described the skink. "Now we have a chance to uncover many of the
things that have previously been missed".
Available content for media (***Please Provide Image
Download photos of the new iridescent
Photo credit: © Gabor Csorba
Preview the scientific article from Zootaxa (including abstract and
For more information, contact:
Fauna & Flora International,
Mobile: +855 (0) 16671771
Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area Manager, CI-Cambodia
Ph: Ph: +855 (0) 12657252 (Cambodia, 13-17 Feb)
+84 (0) 915095342 (Vietnam-
17 Feb onward)
Regional Communications Manager - Asia Pacific,
Mobile (+64) (0) 277793401 (New Zealand)
Note to editors:
Conservation International (CI) — Building upon a
strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers
societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global
biodiversity, for the long term well-being of people. Founded in 1987 and
marking its 25th anniversary in 2012, CI has headquarters in the Washington DC
area, and 900 employees working in nearly 30 countries on four continents, plus
1,000+ partners around the world. For more information, please visit at www.conservation.org, or on Facebook or Twitter.
About Fauna & Flora International (FFI) — FFI protects
threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, choosing solutions that are
sustainable, based on sound science and take account of human needs. Operating
in more than 40 countries worldwide – mainly in the developing world – FFI saves
species from extinction and habitats from destruction, while improving the
livelihoods of local people. Founded in 1903, FFI is the world's longest
established international conservation body and a registered charity.