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Czech expert discovers new lizard species in Somalia
Prague Daily Monitor
Tuesday, April 16, 2013

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Czech amateur herpetologist Tomas Mazur has discovered a new agama species, Xenagama wilmsi, a small lizard with flat "beaver-like" tail, in Somalia, and found out that this is actually the species most reptile fans keep in their vivariums without knowing it, Mazuch has told CTK.

The species inhabits the Horn of Africa countries, Etiopia and Somalia. Its tail is flat at the beginning and it narrows towards its end.

Mazuch cooperated on uncovering and examining the new agama with Philipp Wagner, a professional expert from a Bonn museum.

Scientists described two flat-tailed lizard species, Xenagama batillifera (Beaver-tailed agama) and Xenagama Taylori (Turnip-tailed agama) in 1882 and 1935, respectively. Until recently they did not suppose that any other agama species exists.

Both above species have been kept by reptile fans under the name Beaver-tailed agama, but Mazuch and Wagner have found out that the agamas in keepers' vivariums are actually a different species, which they named Xenagama wilmsi.

The genuine Beaver-tailed agama does not occur in vivariums at all, and even in museums it is quite rare, said Mazuch, who has issued a photographic book about agamas in English.

The agamas in vivariums are most the Turnip-tailed along with the Wilmsi ones. Both occur in the surroundings of Hargesia, a Somalian town where most lizards for export are caught.

The rare Beaver-tailed agama occurs elsewhere in remote parts of Somalia which local reptile hunters usually do not enter, Mazuch said.

The flat-tailed agamas are typical inhabitants of savannas. They use their tail to "cork" the entry to their burrows and thus protect them from predators.

An article about Mazuch and Wagner's research results has appeared in the prestigious Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research. Another article is to appear in a special issue of Acta Herpetologica, a series of articles marking the birth anniversary of Benedetto Lanza, a famous expert in Somalia's herpetology.



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