Published December 21, 2016
Researchers “nosing around” in Ecuador have come across a species of lizard thought to be extinct for 50 years.
After three years of searching, photographers and researchers found the elusive Pinocchio anole– a species of lizard that was believed to have been extinct for over 50 years – in one of Ecuador’s elusive cloud forests.
Named after the famous wooden puppet with the growing nose, the lizard gained name because its own elongated facial part. It was first found in 1953 but had not been seen since the 1960s.
In 2005, an ornithologist saw one crossing a road in the same remote area in northwest Ecuador and the recent discovery of the elusive lizard was only the third time it has been spotted since 2005.
"After looking for so long … It was very thrilling to find this strange lizard," said Alejandro Arteaga, a co-founder of the educational and ecotourism company Tropical Herping, which conducted the search for the lizard, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Because lizards tend to head out at night, when their coloring becomes paler and they are less likely to scurry away, scientists went into the cloud under cover of darkness to find the Pinocchio anole. In January, the scientists came across a male anole and kept it overnight to photograph it in the day light.
An endangered species, the Pinocchio anole has one of the smallest ranges of ant lizard in the world – mostly residing on a single stretch of road in the Ecuadoran cloud forest, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a global environmental group.
Arteaga and his crew were searching for the lizard so they could complete their book, "The Amphibians and Reptiles of Mindo," about a rural region two hours north of Quito, Ecuador's capital.
And if anyone was wondering why these little green monsters have such long noses it’s because it is a sexually selective trait meant to attract females by advertising the male’s good genes, with the females having no nose.
And you know what they say about lizards with long noses…