In the journal ZooKeys, researchers described a monitor lizard that treks around Northeastern Papua New Guinea’s Mussau as being the top scavenger and predator of this remote island. Named Varanus Semotus, researchers discovered it recently, although it was there for millions of years.
These lizards have black bodies with orange and yellow markings and can grow over 3 feet long. Having pale yellow tongues, these adults have tails ranging from turquoise to blue.
In this paper, the lizard is described as ‘biogeographical oddity’ and has been isolated from closely related species for an estimated 1 to 2 million years, as per genetic studies that two study coauthors conducted.
However, they don’t have any idea how the lizards that were separated by 100 miles or more from close relatives came to Mussau.
There is a possibility of a pregnant female ancestor having arrived on the island from islands of New Britain or New Guinea, says Valter Weijola, the lead study author from the Finland’s University of Turku.
Once the ancestor arrived, there might have been a likelihood of it being isolated by open seas, which is the same dynamic that made the area of Pacific a biodiversity hotspot.
Weijola stated that the islands were filled up with unique creatures that are restricted to distribution to just one island group or 1 island.
Still, we know little enough about them. Even large species of mammals and reptiles are being regularly discovered, not to mention invertebrates and amphibians.
Owing to this only, the region has become a fascinating one and a biologically valuable one. The lizards have been spotted in Mussau’s coastal areas, but there is a possibility of them living in inner portions of island’s forested internal parts.
Talking about food, they munch on small birds, crabs, reptiles and eggs. Weijola added that usually the monitors eat anything they catch and kill. Young Pacific monitor lizards are quite secretive and subsist mainly on small animals and insects.