Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Bornean earless monitor lizard in Kalimantan

The Bornean herpetofauna has about 146 amphibians and 254 reptiles – excluding sea snakes and sea turtles. Perhaps the most unusual member of the herpetofauna is the Bornean earless monitor lizard, Lanthanotus borneensis Steindachner 1877; an odd lizard looking lizard with an ancient history. Until now Lanthanotus has been known only from the coastal lowlands of northern Sarawak, but Yaap et al. (2012) report its recent discovery on oil palm development area in the Landak District of West Kalimantan, expanding its known range southward into Kalimantan. 
Photo credit Alain Compost
A single specimen of the lizard was found on 30 May 2008, at 11:28 hrs, in leaf litter in a shallow, rocky creek by a social survey team taking GPS coordinates of locally important cultural sites. The lizard was partially submerged in the creek. The site includes natural forest, secondary forest and isolated bamboo clusters—all located in a recently developed oil palm estate. The estate and its surroundings are a complex mosaic of active or recently abandoned swidden agricultural fields, rubber, agroforestry.

Since its description in 1877, only 12 specimens had been found up until 1961 and only about 100 of these lizards have ever been collected. Much of the information published on L. borneensis are reports on behavioral observations of single specimens kept in captivity and little is actually known about its behavior in its natural habitat.

Yaap, B., G.D. Paoli, A. Angki, P.L. Wells & D. Wahyudi & M. Auliya (2012). First record of The tembawang forms part of a larger forest block. Threatened Taxa 4(11): 3067–3074.

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