Eleven New Species Of Chameleon Found By Scientists In Madagascar
Scientists have just found out that panther chameleons, a type of chameleon that has some really amazing intra-specific color variations and is found on the island nation of Madagascar is actually a part of eleven different species of chameleons.
Madagascar is an island that is home to a wide biodiversity of extraordinary animals. But as a result of deforestation which occurred over the last few decades, the forests and other biodiversity have been under attack for quite a while now.
This study was taken up by Michel Milinkovitch, a professor of genetics, biophysics and evolution at the UNIGE (University of Geneva) and his colleagues from Madagascar. It is their analysis which revealed the existence of eleven different species instead of the common belief till date that there was only one.
It took a couple of expeditions that began in the east all the way till the west to help scientists collect blood from each and every of the 324 chameleons and document their details with the help of color photographs.
The analysis of these photographs showed that there were subtle color patterns in chameleons which could efficiently predict assignment of individual chameleons to their specific genetic lineage.
This is what helped confirm that most of the population in this geographical region may just be a part of separate species. These scientists further simplified their findings by creating a classification key which allowed them to link most chameleons with their corresponding species with nothing more than their naked eyes.
Milinkovitch said that the charismatic nature of chameleons along with a better understanding of their color variations and how genetics was involved in it were going to help them continue on their difficult journey where they are trying to raise awareness about the fragile and staggering biodiversity present in Madagascar. These results were also published in the Molecular Ecology journal.