Earless monitor lizard
The earless monitor lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis) is a semi-aquatic, brown lizard native to northern Borneo. It is the only species in the family Lanthanotidae, a group related to the true monitor lizards, as well as to the beaded lizards.
Earless monitor lizards are around 20 cm in length, and have reduced eyesight and limbs, thick bodies, and strongly keeled scales. Despite the name, they are capable of hearing, although lack a tympanum or other visible signs of ears. They are burrowing, nocturnal animals, feeding on earthworms and similar prey. In captivity, they have been known to eat squid, pieces of fish, and liver. Like their closest relatives, they are oviparous, although little else is known about their reproduction.
This species is very rare, and most known specimens are preserved, though these are also rare. The species is primarily of interest to scientists, since it is an evolutionary outgroup for both varanid and helodermatid lizards.
The earless monitor lizard has been a totally protected species in Malaysia since 1971, in Brunei Darussalam since 1978, and in Indonesia since 1980. Penalties for trading the species that can be imposed on violators range from a fine of US$1,600 and one year’s imprisonment (Brunei Darussalam) to $7,850 and three years’ imprisonment (Malaysia), to $8,600 and five years’ imprisonment (Indonesia). Since 2012, the species has become popular in the illegal wildlife trade, with specimens being removed from the wild in West Kalimantan, causing conservation concern. There is strong evidence proposing that the earless monitor lizard be included on CITES Appendix I.
- IUCN Red List and search for Lanthanotus
- Bauer, Aaron M. (1998). Cogger, H.G.; Zweifel, R.G., eds. Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 156–157. ISBN 0-12-178560-2.
- Nijman and Stoner (2014). Keeping an ear to the ground: monitoring the trade in Earless Monitor Lizards. Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.: TRAFFIC.
- Stoner & Nijman (2015). "The case for CITES Appendix I-listing of Earless Monitor Lizards Lanthanotus borneensis". TRAFFIC Bulletin.
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- Dr. Jessie Maisano, 2001, "Lanthanotus borneensis" (On-line), Digital Morphology. Accessed June 20, 2010 at http://digimorph.org/specimens/Lanthanotus_borneensis/.
- Family lanthanotidae in the J. Craig Venter Institute Reptile Database