May 20, 2024

Along a hilly road in Myanmar was a “dragon”-like creature. The large, pregnant animal went about its morning — or tried to. Scientists spotted the colorful animal and captured it.

It turned out to be a new species.

Researchers wanted to study Jerdon’s forest lizard, a species of dragon lizard that supposedly lives in northeastern India, Myanmar and southwestern China, according to a study published March 7 in the peer-reviewed journal Vertebrate Zoology.

Researchers suspected that Jerdon’s forest lizards were actually several species being inaccurately lumped together, the study said. Intrigued, scientists started comparing lizards from different regions and noticed some patterns.

The “dragon”-like lizards from western Myanmar had different body proportions and scale patterns. Researchers realized they’d discovered a new species: Calotes iadina, or the emerald dragon lizard.

Emerald dragon lizards are considered “large,” reaching just over 16 inches in length, the study said. They have “narrow” heads with a “Y-shape” black marking across their eyes. Two rows of spikes run down their backs, and their tails are “long” and “slender.”

Several Calotes iadina, or emerald dragon lizards. Photos from Jens V. Vindum via Wang, Deepak, Das, Grismer, Liu and Che (2024)Several Calotes iadina, or emerald dragon lizards. Photos from Jens V. Vindum via Wang, Deepak, Das, Grismer, Liu and Che (2024)

Several Calotes iadina, or emerald dragon lizards. Photos from Jens V. Vindum via Wang, Deepak, Das, Grismer, Liu and Che (2024)


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Photos show some emerald dragon lizards. Overall, the lizards have a bright, almost lime green coloring. When stressed, the lizards can “drastically” change color, becoming brownish black, researchers said.

Emerald dragon lizards are likely tree-dwellers but were found “along a road during morning hours,” the study said. Some female lizards were found pregnant, indicating the species breeds in July.

Researchers said they named the new species “iadina,” the Greek word for “emerald,” because of its “bright green” coloring.

So far, emerald dragon lizards have been found only in the Chin State in western Myanmar, the study said. This state is along the border with India and Bangladesh.

The new species was identified by its spikes, scale pattern, body proportions, coloring and other subtle physical features, the study said. DNA analysis found the new species had at least 11% genetic divergence from other species of dragon lizard.

The research team included Kai Wang, V. Deepak, Abhijit Das, L. Lee Grismer, Shuo Liu and Jing Che.

The team also redescribed several other species of dragon lizard from China and India.

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