Cool Science
In Living Color

January 27, 2016

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Photo Credit: ©Tim Davenport/WCS

This is a new species of chameleon, which was recently discovered by a team of scientists, including two from the WCS Tanzania Program, and described in an article in the journal, Acta Herpetologica.

This new one appears green and brown with scattered blue spots, but it can change colors, too, like all chameleons. According to WCS Tanzania Program Director Tim Davenport, this is not about camouflage, as many people think, but more about mood and temperature. At night, when it's colder, chameleons tend to turn a very light color (and this is when they are easiest to spot). Meanwhile, if they are angry or threatened, they turn dark brown.

This new species has been named Kinyongia msuyae for Charles A. Msuya, a pioneer of Tanzanian herpetology, who collected the first known specimen attributable to this species and has spent most of his life studying Tanzania's reptiles and amphibians.

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