This Insanely Elusive Chameleon Has Been Spotted for the First Time in 100 Years

According to the Associated Press (AP), scientists claim that they have found a Voeltzkow’s chameleon –– a species that hasn’t been spotted in 100 years. Maybe it’s just shy?

This strange and elusive animal lives on the African island of Madagascar. Scientists from both Madagascar and Germany published a report in the Salamandra Journal (a journal dedicated to herpetology), according to the Associated Press.

“The chameleon Furcifer voeltzkowi (Boettger, 1893) from northwestern Madagascar was considered to be a synonym of Furcifer rhinoceratus for many decades and was resurrected only recently based on studies of the morphology and osteology of a few male specimens, which were collected more than 100 years ago,” it says in the report abstract. “During a targeted expedition, we rediscovered F. voeltzkowi in its natural habitat close to its type locality.”

Finding a so-called “lost” species at this point in time is especially important. “Our planet is probably facing the beginning of an enormous extinction of species,” it says in the report. “Rediscoveries of 'lost' species are very important as they provide crucial data for conservation measures and also bring some hope amidst the biodiversity crisis.”

The Voeltzkow’s chameleon is particularly unique and beautiful. The report finds that the male of the species is mostly green, but females are “extremely colorful,” particularly during pregnancy, when a male is around, or when “stressed,” the AP reported. 

But its absence for nearly a century most likely isn’t because the chameleon is extremely good at hiding or camouflaging itself. Researchers noted in the report that this species may have a very short life span, only a few months during the rainy season on the island. Its natural habitat is also threatened because of deforestation and wildfires, according to CNN.

“The assumed short life might also partly explain why this splendid species got ‘lost’ for many decades, since most roads in its habitat are not accessible in the wet season,” it says in the report.

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