Green tree monitor lizardI am always amazed at the biodiversity of life on Earth.  Just when you think we have discovered all there is, a news story like this comes along.

It is rare to find a new species of animal, especially one as large as this 2m long monitor lizard that has just been discovered in the Philippines.

It’s not like a lizard this big can hide for long, especially with its striking bright yellow, blue and green skin.

Discussing events such as this can go a long way to brighten up the dry subject of classification and taxonomy.  Students often mistakenly think that discovering and naming new species was something that only happened in ‘the olden days’.
Some great images of the lizard can be found on the website in the link above.  Students can be shown an image, and then asked which animal group it belongs to and what clues gives this away.

Good questions to start discussions on taxonomy include ‘why did scientists think that this is a new species?’ and ‘how could they prove it?’.  In this case, the scientists identified the lizard as a new species on the basis of its body size, the appearance of its scales and its colouring and proved it by checking its DNA against known species of monitor lizard.

Related posts:

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  2. What’s in a (binomial) name?
  3. Amazing biodiversity in Borneo