World’s smallest goanna lizard discovered in AustraliaPublished On: Sat, Jan 3rd, 2015 | New Species | By BioNews
The name of the new species is the ‘Dampier Peninsula Goanna’, so-called as this species is only known from the peninsula north of Broome and Derby, in the western Kimberley region of Western Australia. The scientific name is Varanus sparnus.
The discovery of this species is significant as it is the world’s smallest species of Varanus lizard (this single genus has 77 species, with the new species the 78th one). This group of charismatic lizards also contains large-bodied species such as the Australian desert-dwelling Perentie (Varanus giganteus) at over 2 metres long, and the famous Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) from Indonesia at over 3 metres long and over 80 kg (the largest lizard in the world). In contrast, the new species has a maximum known size of only 23 cm and weighs just 16 grams.
The species was discovered by consultants Roy Teale and Greg Harold from Biota Environmental Sciences while undertaking a survey in the region. It was classified by Dr Paul Doughty, Curator of Reptiles at the WA Museum.
The discovery of the new species highlights the high biodiversity values of the Kimberley region, and the possibility that more exciting finds await.