A new species of lizard with striking iridescent rainbow skin, a long tail and very short legs has been discovered in the rainforest in northeast Cambodia, conservationists announced Wednesday.
Scientists named the skink Lygosoma veunsaiensis to honour the Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area in Rattanakiri province where it was found, Conservation International (CI) said in a statement.
The lizard was discovered in 2010 in the remote and little-explored rainforest area during biological surveys led by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) in partnership with CI, the group said.
“These creatures are difficult to find because they spend so much of their life underground’, said Neang Thy, a Cambodian national working for FFI and the first herpetologist to see the new skink.
“Some similar species are known from only a few individuals. We were very lucky to find this one,” said Neang Thy.
The new species is unusual because it has very short limbs and a tail that is much longer than its main body. Its skin has a refracting quality to the scales that creates a rainbow-like effect in sunlight, the group said.
The lizard was the third new species in the last two years to be found in Veun Sai, following the discovery of a new type of bat and a gibbon.