New Lizard Species Discovered in Dominican Republic

Posted on June 18, 2016

Anolis landestoyi

A new species of lizard has been discovered in the Dominican Republic. The lizard is a Greater Antillean anole. It is the first new anole species discovered in the Dominican Republic in decades.

The anole has been named Anolis landestoyi. It is named after Miguel Landestoy, the naturalist who first spotted and discovered it. It is similar to a Cuban species named Anolis porcus. There are over 40 Anolis species on Hispaniola, which includes Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Luke Mahler of U of Toronto's Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and lead author of the study, says in a statement, "As soon as I saw the pictures, I thought, 'I need to buy a plane ticket.' Our immediate thought was that this looks like something that's supposed to be in Cuba, not in Hispaniola - the island that Haiti and the Dominican Republic share. We haven't really seen any completely new species here since the early 1980s."

Mahler says the discovery and the lizard's similarity to a Cuban lizard suggests their may be fewer exceptions to an island evolution rule - replicated adaptive radiation - than previously thought. Mahler says, "Like the discovery of a missing puzzle piece, Anolis landestoyi clarifies our view of replicated adaptive radiation in anoles."

A research paper on the new species was published here in the journal, The American Naturalist.

Photo: Miguel Landestoyi