A news site about animals

New Blue Lizard Described in Vietnam

Scientists have identified a new bright-blue lizard hiding in plain sight.  The lizard, found in Vietnam and named Calotes bachae, had long been thought to be another blue lizard species, but a combination of genetic analysis and studying the size and scale characteristics of the animals revealed that the lizard belongs to a new species, according to an article in the January issue of the journal Zootaxa.

During mating season, the colors of the male lizards become especially vivid, ranging from cobalt blue to bright turquoise. This serves to attract females and to intimidate other males, said Hartmann.

While by day the lizard’s blue and green coloration is striking, at night it appears dark brown, “showing no bright coloration at all,” said Hartmann, a Ph.D. candidate at the Herpetology Department at the Museum Koenig in Bonn, Germany.

The newly identified animal was found in open areas of Cat Tien National Park, in dense tropical forests in Bu Gia Map National Park and, perhaps surprisingly, in parks in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.

The discovery grew out of a survey of reptiles and amphibians in Vietnam’s Cat Tien National Park. Specimens from the project that were believed to be Calotes mystaceus were shared with Russian scientists working on a DNA barcoding database of all amphibian and reptile species from Vietnam.

This barcoding, which compares specific genetic markers, revealed a significant number of genetic differences between the previously known species and what is now known as Calotes bachae. The finding was unexpected, but not uncommon, said study co-author Nick A. Poyarkov, from the Department of Zoology of the Lomonosov Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia.

“In many cases two different species of frogs or lizards may look really similar but have profound genetic divergence,” Poyarkov said.

Further research revealed that it’s also possible to differentiate between the two species with the naked eye.  Calotes bachae has faint brown blotches on its back, along with a yellowish moustache-like marking on its face. The Calotes mystaceus, by contrast, has dark brown spots and a white moustache. The differences become especially apparent during mating season, Hartmann said.

Hartmann suspects the surprising discovery points the way to other yet-to-be-identified lizard species: “I am sure that in Southeast Asia in general there are still many more new lizard species to discover.”

The Cat with the Loudest Purr


Meet Merlin, the cat with the loudest purr on record.  Most cats purr at around 25 decibels, but Merlin has been clocked at purrs of 100 decibels- that’s louder than a hair dryer or a hand drill- it’s about as loud as a lawnmower!  Merlin and his owner are now trying to get him into the Guinness Book of World Records. Good luck Merlin!


Happy Caturday ^-^

The Otter of San Francisco

In San Francisco, California, the first river otter (in fifty years) is living in the city. The otter has mystified and delighted tourists and conservationists alike, who are piecing together clues to figure out just how he got there…





















The otter is nicknamed “Sutro Sam” after the location of where he builds his nest: the old historic bathswhich were named after former San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro, who built the building, which at the time was an engineering marvel.

“We came here to see the baths and this was just a bonus,” said Eliza Durkin, who brought her son Jonathan to the site for a school project on historic places.

He was first spotted in September and has since settled into the City by the Bay.

River otters once thrived in the San Francisco Bay area, but development, hunting and environmental pollution in the 19th and 20th centuries has taken its toll on the once thriving local population.

The critters are a living barometer of water quality – if it’s bad they cannot thrive. But new populations being seen north and east of San Francisco are giving hope to conservationists that years of environmental regulations and new technologies are making a difference.

“The fact that this otter is in San Francisco and doing so well in other regions of the Bay Area, it’s a good message that there’s hope for the watershed,” said Megan Isadore, director of outreach and education for the River Otter Ecology Project, a group that studies otter populations further north and in the bay.

This aquatic mammal seems to have found the mix of the environment he needs to make a home, to the delight of tourists and local nature lovers.


Happy Ottersday :-)

Seven Little Lions Cubs

After spending the last week in Las Vegas, Nevada, I decided that my first post back from my vacation should report on news from Las Vegas.

As reported by the Las Vegas Sun, at a private lion breeding facility, the Lion Habitat Ranch in Henderson, Nevada, seven lion cubs were recently born, and each one is more adorable than the last.

Celebrating the New Year With New Baby Monkeys

At the Prospect Park Zoo, in Brooklyn, New York, two Geoffroy’s tamarins have made their debut, in all their golden-tufted fur glory.

The zoo announced the birth of two Geoffroy’s tamarins Thursday.  Throughout their first day in the spotlight, the twins held on tight to their mother’s back. The zoo workers do not know the sex of either yet. The twins have not been separated from their mother since their births.  The mother, like many other female Geoffroy’s tamarins, has been through this once before. She had already given birth to another pair of twins.


Geoffroy’s tamarins are native to central and eastern Panama and Colombia, where their natural habitat is under threat from deforestation, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.  The zoo, which is part of the Wildlife Conservation Society, is committed to saving wildlife and wild places across the globe. The society manages the planet’s largest system of wildlife parks in urban areas. Chief among them is the world-renowned Bronx Zoo.


Happy Monkey and Happy New Years Eve! :-)