New Animal Species of 2010: Sierra Madre Forest Monitor (Varanus bitatawa) [LiveScience 2011-05-23]
Monitor Lizard (Varanus bitatawa)
Common name: Sierra Madre Forest Monitor or Golden Spotted Monitor
Credit: Image courtesy of A. C. Diesmos (National Museum of the Philippines)
At 6 feet 6 inches in length, a frugivorous (fruit-eating) monitor lizard found in the Northern Sierra Madre Forest on Luzon Island in the Philippines is the longest species to make this year's top 10. Weighing only 22 pounds, this species is brightly colored with stripes of gold flecks. Its scaly body and legs are a blue-black mottled with pale yellow-green dots and its tail is marked in alternating segments of black and green. Named Varanus bitatawa, this lizard spends most of its time in trees and has become a flagship species for conservation in the Philippines.