Scientists have discovered three new lizard species in the Andes.
They are colorful and just inches long, and are being describe as miniature dragons because of their patterened skin and spikelike scales — but technically they are known as woodlizards, and up until now there had only been 12 species of their genus, Enyalioides, that were known, according to a Christian Science Monitor report. Five of those species were discovered in just the past seven years.
Researchers found the three new species deep in the forest in Peru and Ecuador — high-altitude tropical forests that are covered in fog and mist that creates an almost mystical environment teaming with interesting wildlife.
Omar Torres-Carvajal of the Museo de Zooligia QCAZ in Ecuado, who led the team, said the diversity of this particular species of reptile “has been underestimated,” according to the report.
At 6 inches long, woodlizards are one of the largest lizards in the Amazon, and their colors and patterns allow them to hide easily.
One species, E. sophiarothschildae — named after Sophia Rothschild, a donor to their efforts — was found at an elevation of 4,921 feet in northern Peru, and it featured a white patch on the throat and a greenish-black back. The other two species, E. anisolepis and E. altotambo, were found in northern Peru and southern Ecuador between about 2,375 feet and 5,715 feet above sea level.
E. anisolepis was named for a Greek word that means unequal scales due to the animal’s differently sized scales. It also has some spikes that stick out the back of its head, and it features black and green coloring for males, whereas females are a pale brown color. E. altotambo, meanwhile, was named for the town in Ecuador where it was found: Alto Tambo. It is a bright green lizard that actually resembles an already discovered species, E. oshaughnessyi, but the irises of the new species are a different color.