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Once 'extinct' Pinnochio lizard rediscovered

New York, PTI | Updated : 07 October 2013, 07:42 PM

The long-nosed Pinocchio lizard, believed to be extinct for 50 years, has been rediscovered in the cloud forests of Ecuador.

A team of photographers and researchers found the lizard recently in a stretch of pristine cloud forest in the northwest part of the country, said Alejandro Arteaga, a co-founder of the educational and ecotourism company Tropical Herping, which conducted the search for the lizard.

Also called the Pinocchio anole the animal was first discovered in 1953.

But it wasn't seen between the 1960s and 2005, when an ornithologist saw one crossing a road in the same remote area in northwest Ecuador, Arteaga said.

This is only the third time scientists have spotted it since 2005, Arteaga added.

One of his researchers found a single male Pinocchio anole clinging to a branch over a stream in January. The team then kept it overnight before photographing it in the morning in its natural habitat.

"After looking for so long...It was very thrilling to find this strange lizard," Arteaga told LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.

The team then let the animal go. Pinocchio anoles (Anolis proboscis) are an endangered species and have been found in only four locations, mostly along a single stretch of road, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a global environmental group.

The lizard's noselike appendage is a sexually selected trait that likely serves no functional purpose but to advertise a male's good genes; females of the species have no such "noses."

First Published: Monday, October 07, 2013 07:39 PM
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