(ORDO NEWS) — Nearly 130 years ago, Italian explorer Elio Modigliani arrived at the Natural History Museum in Genoa with a lizard, which he reportedly found in the forests of Indonesia. But no one else ever saw them. Up to this day.
Received in 1933, the name Harpesaurus modiglianii lizard has not been seen by anyone for 130 years. No one had even heard stories about her.
Suddenly, Adha Putra discovered Chedunasa by the lake, which fills the caldera of the supervolcano, “a dead lizard with interesting morphological features, but he was not sure what it was,” says herpetologist Tasun Amarasinghe, to whom Chedunasa turned for consultation.
Looking at the lizard’s horn, the scientist immediately recognized the Modigliani lizard. “This is the only species of lizards with a nose-growing horn found in North Sumatra,” he says.
He asked Putra to return to the caldera and see if there were any living representatives of the species. According to the biologist, five days later Putra found what he was looking for: a living lizard was sleeping on a branch. He photographed a lizard and measured parts of the animal’s body, the length of its nasal horn and head. He also observed the behavior of the lizard before releasing it to freedom that evening.
Amarasingh compared the lizard to the one described in 1933, and concluded that they belong to the same species. A sample from the Genoese Museum has a pale blue color, which became so as a result of storage of the exhibit. The natural color of the lizard is green.
Amarasinghe and Putra, delighted with the find, but worried about the future of the species. “The lizard has been found outside the protected area, and massive deforestation is taking place nearby,” says Amarasinghe.
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