Lost and Found

By Alice Orszulok

The Pinocchio lizard—named accordingly because of its huge nose—has been spotted in Ecuador’s cloud forests.

The cloud forests of South America is renowned for producing a parade of beautiful, bizarre creatures; one such oddity is the Pinocchio lizard (Anolis proboscis), also known as horned anole.

This curious-looking animal did a disappearing act shortly after it was first discovered in 1953. Researchers saw a few specimens during the 1960s, but then it seemed to have vanished from the surface of the Earth.

In 2005 a group of bird watchers was having the time of their lives near the town of Mind, in Ecuador, when they saw a strange-looking lizard with a massive horn crossing the street. One of them took a picture and made it public once back home. When an herpetologist saw it, he couldn’t believe his eyes: the Pinocchio lizard was well and alive.

Several researchers packed their things and ventured to this area of Ecuador to study the elusive lizard, and after a few months scientists from Tropical Herping found several specimens hiding in the forest.  “We discovered this lizard occurs in habitats very different to what has been suggested in the literature. No one had ever found the lizard in deep cloud forests away from open areas,” said Alejandro Arteaga, one of the lead researchers said in a statement.

Pinocchio anoles are an endangered species and have only been found in four places in the world. They are extremely difficult to spot in the wild because they camouflage with their surroundings, turning pale white when they snooze.

“After looking for so long, it was very thrilling to find this strange lizard,” Arteaga told Live Science.

But there is a mystery yet to be solved, why do Pinocchio lizards have such long noses? One theory suggests they use it to fight over the ladies, but the horns are too flexible to be used as ‘swords’.

Source [Live Science]

Keyword [Camouflage]
Camouflage is a strategy often used by animals to hide from predators. They do this by either changing their colours to match their surroundings, or by living in a habitat that complements their colouring or their shape.