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Lygosoma veunsaiensis. Credit:Gabor Csorba

Shiny new lizard discovered in northeast Cambodia

Posted on: 23.02.12 (Last edited) 23 February 2012

Discovered in Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area, this new lizard species is the most recent find in a string of discoveries in the remote northeast Cambodia, increasing the conservation value of this unique region

A diminutive iridescent lizard is the latest new species to be discovered in Cambodia’s remote and poorly explored rainforests.

Neang Thy, Head of Biological Research (Phnom Penh) with Fauna & Flora International (FFI), was the first herpetologist to see the lizard, a type of skink, during an expedition led by FFI and Conservation International (CI).

The new species is unusual in having extremely short limbs and a tail considerably longer than its body. In sunlight a refracting quality to the scales creates a rainbow-like effect along its body.

Lygosoma veunsaiensis. Credit: Gabor Csorba

Lygosoma veunsaiensis. Credit: Gabor Csorba

Named Lygosoma veunsaiensis by scientists to honour the Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area in Ratanakiri where it was first found, the skink is the latest in a string of new species discovered in this area. “This is the third new species in the last two years to be discovered in Veun Sai,” said Ben Rawson of Conservation International. “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.”

Cambodian national Neang Thy explained, “These creatures are difficult to find because they spend so much of their life hidden underground. Some similar species are known from only a few individuals. We were very lucky to find this one.”

Cambodia is proving a biodiversity hotbed for new discoveries, especially reptiles. Peter Geissler from Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig in Germany, one of the authors who described the skink, attributes this to the lack of recent research. “Three decades of conflict effectively prevented herpetological investigations until the late 1990s,” he said, “and now we have a chance to uncover many of the things that have previously been missed, especially new reptiles.”

<em><em/>Lygosoma veunsaiensis </em> . Credit: Gabor Csorba

Lygosoma veunsaiensis. Credit: Gabor Csorba

Written by
Ally Catterick

Ally worked in media management and PR for clients including comedians Eddie Izzard and Ed Byrne before becoming Publicity Manager for the Melbourne International Arts Festival. Strategy and communications for conservation organisation Greening Australia and her role as Unit and Company Publicist for production company Roving Enterprises followed, until she was introduced to Fauna & Flora International (FFI) upon their arrival in Australia in 2008. Ally became a founding board member – until moving to the UK to become the organisation's Communications Manager. Ally is now FFI's Deputy Director of Communications and oversees all communications for FFI globally.

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These creatures are difficult to find because they spend so much of their life hidden underground

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