A new kind of alligator has been found in one of the least expected places.
After photos emerged of an “alligator of the trees” living in southern Mexico ten years ago, researchers have been searching for the elusive creature. After five attempts, they finally captured what is being hailed as a new species.
The Miami Herald writes:
The yearslong quest began after some “intriguing photographs emerged” in 2014 of a tree-dwelling lizard from Coapilla, according to a study published Jan. 3 in the journal PLOS One. Researchers searched for the elusive lizards on five expeditions between 2015 and 2022.
The search turned out to involve “extraordinary difficulty,” the study said. Researchers spent over 350 hours searching the ground and used climbing gear to search the limbs and canopy of about 20 trees.
Eventually, researchers found five of the “alligator”-like lizards, the study said. They took a closer look at the animals and realized they’d discovered a new species: Abronia cunemica, or the Coapilla arboreal alligator lizard.
Coapilla arboreal alligator lizards are “unusually large” and can reach about 9.8 inches in length, researchers said. They have yellow-brown scaly bodies covered in darker brown blotches. Their eyes are “pale yellow” with dark flecks.
— New York Post (@nypost) January 8, 2024
Scientists told The New York Post that they have been “intentionally” vague about the exact location of their discovery because they want to do their best to protect the new species.
The alligator lizards have so far only been found in the humid highland forests of Central America. The researchers claim that the species in the new group are “mysterious” and often go unseen due to their “cryptic behavior” and limited distribution area.