A new study published on October 10 in the journal Zoologica Research has revealed the existence of a newly discovered species of lizard in Laos, which coincidentally bears a resemblance to the mythical creature, the dragon. The discovery has sparked great interest among environmentalists and wildlife conservationists.
A team of researchers from the National University of Laos and the China Zoological Research Institute have been conducting thorough research since the species was first discovered in August 2022. Its discovery site is in the middle of a limestone karst landscape in Central Laos.
The newly identified lizard species, named Laodracon carsticola, is often unofficially called the "Khammouane Karst Dragon" due to its resemblance to the mythical dragon creature. This species is also the only member of the genus Laodracon found in the region.
Researchers also named the new species after the environment in which it was found. The name "Carsticola" comes from a combination of the German word for limestone, "karst," and the Latin word for inhabitant, "cola," according to the study.
Interestingly, this lizard is distinctly different from other lizard species due to its long tail and highly distinctive scale patterns. In fact, due to its DNA differences and unique physical characteristics, the research team classified this lizard as part of a new genus called Laodracon, also known as the "Laos Karst Dragons."
According to the findings, the Khammouane karst dragon's body size can be classified as "medium," with a length of about 1 foot. The species also has unique features, including a "triangular" head, a "slender and long" body, "bluish-gray" eyes, and scales with a rough texture. The lizard's body displays a predominantly black coloration with several prominent white bands adorning its back, while white speckles adorn its head and limbs. The underside of its body and an area beneath its throat exhibit a subtle shade of blue.
These lizards also have interesting behaviors. They tend to remain motionless and blend into the shadows and light around them. This makes them difficult to spot until they actually move. Meanwhile, the study also mentioned that Khammouane karst dragons are often seen climbing or sitting on rock pinnacles that range in height from 160 to 230 feet.
The presence of this dragon-like lizard species amidst the fragile karst habitat has caught the attention of locals, who have observed its rare habit of being most active in the afternoon. The discovery of this lizard in a limestone karst environment reflects the incredible yet fragile biodiversity of this region. Limestone karst areas are known to be home to unique species, often threatened by destructive human activities such as deforestation and mining.
Conservation experts say it is urgent to protect these fragile ecosystems. The act of protecting this environment is not only to ensure the survival of the newly discovered dragon-like lizard, but also to save the diverse range of other species that depend on this limestone karst habitat. In this case, preserving the natural habitat is key to maintaining the sustainability and survival of these amazing creatures.