November 24, 2009

AINA MPYA YA KINYONGA YAGUNDULIWA BONGO.

Snake spits out new species of chameleon at scientist's feet

It was so nearly known as dinner. Instead, a small and not terribly impressive chameleon has become the newest discovery of the natural world, after a startled Tanzanian snake spat a still-undigested specimen at the feet of a British scientist, who identified it as a previously unknown species.

Dr Andrew Marshall, a conservationist from York University, was surveying monkeys in the Magombera forest in Tanzania, when he stumbled across a twig snake which, frightened, coughed up the chameleon and fled. Though a colleague persuaded him not to touch it because of the risk from venom, Marshall suspected it might be a new species, and took a photograph to send to colleagues, who confirmed his suspicions.

Kinyongia magomberae, literally "the chameleon from Magombera", is the result, though Marshall told the Guardian today the fact it wasn't easy to identify is precisely what made it unique.

"The thing is, colour isn't the best thing for telling chameleons apart, since they can change colour for camouflage. They are usually identified based on the patterning and shape of the head, and the arrangement of scales. In this case it's the bulge of scales on its nose."

ISOME ZAIDI HAPA

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