The 6-inch-long (15-centimeter-long) reptile, called Dibamus dalaiensis, is the first of its kind discovered in the Southeast Asian country. The animal joins more than 200 legless lizard species and about 50 other new reptiles discovered worldwide in the past decade.
Herpetologist Neang Thy of Fauna & Flora International found the new species under a log in the Cardamom Mountains (map), in the southwestern part of the country. “At first I thought it was a common species,” Thy said in a press release. “But looking closer, I realized it was something I didn’t recognize.”
Like other, modern legless lizards, the new species probably lives underground, where it doesn’t need eyes or legs.
Little is known about D. dalaiensis at this point, but scientists say it may navigate by its nose to hunt for earthworms, ants, and termites.
Neang Thy also said “Finding and having museums recognize a new species is only the beginning – now the animal has a name and a partial geographic distribution, but we still know almost nothing of its biology. Still much to be learned!”
Cambodia now boasts more than 22 new species (including 10 amphibians and 12 reptiles) discovered and described since 2000.
According to nationalgeographic.com and fauna-flora.org