Scientists name lizard species after Sir David Attenborough

"We thought it fitting the lizard be named after the world-famous naturalist," said researcher Martin Whiting.
By Brooks Hays  |  Aug. 3, 2015 at 4:09 PM
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ACTON, Australia, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- A new brightly colored flat lizard species has been discovered in South Africa. The scientists describing the newly identified creature have decided to name it after naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

The newly named species is Platysaurus attenboroughi. Flat lizards are a genus of the Cordylidae family, a family whose species are found only in Africa. They're named for their unique body shape, which allow them to squeeze into the smallest of crevices to escape hungry pursuers.

Most members of the Cordylidae family birth live young and are a dull black or brown. Flat lizards lay eggs and boast various combinations of bright colors.

Researchers from the Australian National University spent time with Attenborough in South Africa's Augrabies Falls National Park during the filming of a nature documentary focusing on flat lizards.

"We thought it fitting the lizard be named after the world-famous naturalist after he made famous a closely related flat lizard species in the BBC series Life in Cold Blood," Martin Whiting, a biologist at ANU, said in a press release.

The new species is described in the journal ZooTaxa.

"Flat lizards attracted my attention some years ago, and since then we have been working on understanding their social system, how color functions in communication, and how the various species are related," Whiting said. "It was during this process that we realized there were more species than currently described and there was a real need to uncover or build a 'family tree' for flat lizards. This is something our team is currently working on."

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