Colorful New Lizard Identified

The lizard, found in Vietnam and named Calotes bachae, had long been thought to be another blue lizard species found in Myanmar and Thailand. 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.

At first glance the new species looks more or less identical to another blue-headed lizard in Southeast Asia, Calotes mystaceus, said article lead author Timo Hartmann, and scientists had not taken a closer look until now.

During mating season, the colors of the male lizards—which can measure up to 11 inches (28 centimeters)—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.

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