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Chameleon snatched from jaws of snake is a new species

By James G. Robertson

Andrew Marshall was surveying monkeys in the Magombera Forest in Tanzania as a conservation researcher when he disturbed a snake along his path. The snake was snacking on a chameleon at the time, and hastily left its lunch sitting in front of him.

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Photo: Andrew Marshall/African Journal of Herpetology

Marshall took a snapshot of the chameleon, and when he showed it to local experts they told him they had never seen one like it. They went out and found more specimens and named the new species after the forest where it was found–Kinyongia magomberae, or the Magombera chameleon.

“It’s terribly exciting to be part of this discovery, it’s not actually part of the work that I do,” said Marshall in a statement. “Of course being a conservation researcher it’s a wonderful thing to find a new species for the aim of conservation. The forest I work in is very threatened and by finding a new species and naming it after the forest where we’re working, it really helps us to emphasize the importance of the place.”

If the snake had finished its lunch, perhaps the new chameleon may never have been discovered because of its threatened environment. Marshall was not the only one to get lucky that day. Maybe the Magombera chameleons got lucky too.

Marshall’s conservation work is part of a joint project between University of York in England and the Flamingo Land zoo and theme park.