Northern Sierra Madre forest monitor

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Northern Sierra Madre forest monitor
Varanus bitatawa (KU 322188) from Barangay Dibuluan, San Mariano - ZooKeys-266-001-g069.jpg
Varanus bitatawa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Scleroglossa
Infraorder: Anguimorpha
Superfamily: Varanoidea
Family: Varanidae
Genus: Varanus
Subgenus: V. (Philippinosaurus)
Species: V. bitatawa
Binomial name
Varanus bitatawa
Welton, Siler, Bennett, Diesmos, Duya, Dugay, Rico, Van Weerd, & Brown, 2010

The Northern Sierra Madre forest monitor, Varanus bitatawa, also known by the local names bitatawa, baritatawa, and butikaw, is a large, arboreal, frugivorous lizard of the genus Varanus.[1][2] The lizard is a staple food of the Aeta and Ilongot indigenous people of the Philippines.[3]

Physical description[edit]

A dorsal view of Varanus bitatawa with inset showing a lateral view of the head

The forest monitor lizard can grow to more than 2 m (6.6 ft) in length, but weighs only about 10 kg (22 lb). "Its scaly body and legs are a blue-black mottled with pale yellow-green dots, while its tail is marked in alternating segments of black and green."[4] Dorsal ground coloration is black, "accentuated with bright golden yellow in life, while the dorsum is golden yellow spots and flecks.[1]

News reports emphasized that males have hemipenes, paired penis-like organs.[4][5] However, all male lizards and snakes have hemipenes.[6]

Behavior[edit]

V. batawaka is one of only three frugivorous lizards in the Varanidae family Along with V. olivaceus One of only three frugivorous monitor lizards in the world,.[1]

The forest monitor specializes in eating the fruit of Pandan palm trees.[7] They spend most of their time in trees, more than 20 meters above the ground; similar species spend less than 20 minutes on the ground per week.[8]

Taxonomy and distribution[edit]

V. bitatawa is closely related to the Komodo dragon of Indonesia. It was confirmed as a new species in April 2010 by biologists from the University of Kansas. DNA analysis has revealed a deep genetic divergence between this species and its closest relative, Gray's Monitor (Varanus olivaceus), which is also a fruit-eater, but lives on the southern end of Luzon, rather than the northern end where the forest monitor lizard lives.[1]

The lizard's known range is currently limited to the Sierra Madre Forest, in the northeastern coast of the island of Luzon, Philippines.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Welton, L. J.; Siler, C. D.; Bennett, D.; Diesmos, A.; Duya, M. R.; Dugay, R.; Rico, E. L. B.; Van Weerd, M.; Brown, R. M. (2010). "A spectacular new Philippine monitor lizard reveals a hidden biogeographic boundary and a novel flagship species for conservation". Biology Letters 6 (5): 654–658. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2010.0119. ISSN 1744-9561. PMC 2936141. PMID 20375042. 
  2. ^ "Third Quarter Topical Issue – Philippine Endemic Lizards". PHLPOST. Philippine Postal Corporation. 20 July 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Milius, S. (6 April 2010). Scientists Name Large But Elusive Lizard. Science News. Retrieved 6 April 2010{{inconsistent citations}} 
  4. ^ a b AFP (7 April 2010). "New giant, double-penis lizard - Varanus bitatawa or monitor lizard - found on Luzon Island in the Philippines". Herald Sun. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Liyu, Lin (7 April 2010). "Lizard with 2 penises found in Philippines". Xinhuanet.com. Retrieved 7 April 2010{{inconsistent citations}} .
  6. ^ "Hemipenes"{{inconsistent citations}} 
  7. ^ "New Lizard Species Discovered in Philippines". Leiden University Research Portal News. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Owen, James (7 April 2010). "New Giant Lizard Discovery "an Unprecedented Surprise"". National Geographic News (National Geographic). Retrieved 11 December 2013. 

External links[edit]