The Panther Chameleon is a beautiful, brightly colored lizard native to Madagascar, and a new study by the University of Geneva has discovered through DNA testing that it really makes up 11 separate species of lizard. The reptiles are said to travel and live all over the coast in Madagascar, as well as on Reunion Island, which is a French island nearby.
Until this study was done, it was thought that the Panther Chameleon was a single species, but after this new study, it was determined to be far from the truth. The team of researchers to travel to Madagascar were to discover that instead, there are at least 11 separate species of these beautiful and interesting reptiles.
Blood, DNA Show Panther Chameleon is 11 Separate Species
Dr. Michel Milinkkovitch and his team did the study on the Panther Chameleons through DNA and blood sample checks of over 300 of the reptiles, which can get to almost 20 inches in length. The testing showed very little interbreeding amongst the separate species as they travel in their various territories, and a study of the photos of the specimens revealed that various color patterns can also help to determine the separate species differences. The chameleons had unique variations of red, yellow, blue, green and orange coloring, and the separate species also had different habitats.
New Discovery Will Help Conserve Chameleons in Wild
The researchers put together a way to classify the 11 separate species of chameleon that will help future scientists and those in the business of trading the reptiles to identify them by looking at a simple chart. It is called biodiversity management and will also aid in helping to protect and conserve the chameleons that travel and live in Madagascar. The chart will help prevent over harvesting of the animals from one particular species.
All Chameleons Don’t Have the Ability to Show All Colors
Before the discovery that the Panther Chameleon is really 11 separate species, it was believed that the single species could change colors amongst the hues of blue, green, yellow, red, orange and brown. The tests done by the researchers showed that instead, the range of colors was actually the color that each of the separate species could maintain.
Now it is thought that a single species of panther chameleon can’t change into that many individual colors, and that each of the separate species have only a small range of color changing abilities. Scientists can use this range of colors to pinpoint which of the separate species of Panther Chameleons travel and live in which parts of Madagascar and other nearby islands.