Itâ€™s no lieâ€”scientists have spotted a lizard with a nose like PinocchioÂ in an EcuadorianÂ cloud forest. Whatâ€™s more, the long-nosed reptile was thought extinct, having been seen only a few times in the past 15 years.
â€œItâ€™s hard to describe the feelings of finding this lizard. Finding the Pinocchio anole was like discovering a secret, a deeply held secret. We conceived it for years to be a mythological creature,â€ Alejandro Arteaga, a photographer and one of the lizardâ€™s spotters, said inÂ a statement.
Not surprisingly, theÂ defining feature of theÂ Pinocchio lizardâ€”properly named Anolis proboscis, orÂ the horned anoleâ€”is the maleâ€™s long protrusion on the end of its nose. Far from being a sturdy, rigid structure, researchers have found that the horn is actually quite flexible.
Despite its peculiar appearance, the reptile wasnâ€™t formally described by scientists until 1953. They managed to save only six specimens, all of which were male. It was spotted several times in the next few years, all near the town of Mindo, Ecuador, and then the species seemed to vanish.
â€œFor 40 years, no one saw it. At that point, we thought the species had gone extinct,â€ said Jonathan Losos, an evolutionary biologist and herpetologist at Harvard University who has studied the animal.