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Elusive chameleon species last seen 100 years ago rediscovered in Madagascar

Scientists say they have found an elusive chameleon species that was last spotted in Madagascar 100 years ago. Researchers from Madagascar and Germany said Friday that they discovered several living specimens of Voeltzkow’s chameleon during an expedition to the northwest of the African island nation. In a report published in the journal Salamandra, the team led by scientists from the Bavarian Natural History Collections ZSM said genetic analysis determined that the species is closely related to Labord’s chameleon.

Researchers believe that both reptiles only live during the rainy season hatching from eggs, growing rapidly, sparring with rivals, mating, and then dying during a few short months. “These animals are basically the mayflies among vertebrae,” said Frank Glaw, curator for reptiles and amphibians. Researchers said the female of the species, which had never previously been documented, displayed particularly colorful patterns during pregnancy, when encountering males and when stressed. The scientist says that Voeltzkow’s chameleon’s habitat is under threat from deforestation.

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