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Chameleon snatched from jaws of snake is a new species

By James G. Robertson Andrew Marshall was surveying monkeys in the Magombera Forest in Tanzania as a conservation researcher when he disturbed a snake along his path. The snake was snacking on a chameleon at the time, and hastily left its lunch sitting in front of him. Photo: Andrew Marshall/African Journal of Herpetology Marshall took...

By James G. Robertson

Andrew Marshall was surveying monkeys in the Magombera Forest in Tanzania as a conservation researcher when he disturbed a snake along his path. The snake was snacking on a chameleon at the time, and hastily left its lunch sitting in front of him.

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Photo: Andrew Marshall/African Journal of Herpetology

Marshall took a snapshot of the chameleon, and when he showed it to local experts they told him they had never seen one like it. They went out and found more specimens and named the new species after the forest where it was found–Kinyongia magomberae, or the Magombera chameleon.

“It’s terribly exciting to be part of this discovery, it’s not actually part of the work that I do,” said Marshall in a statement. “Of course being a conservation researcher it’s a wonderful thing to find a new species for the aim of conservation. The forest I work in is very threatened and by finding a new species and naming it after the forest where we’re working, it really helps us to emphasize the importance of the place.”

If the snake had finished its lunch, perhaps the new chameleon may never have been discovered because of its threatened environment. Marshall was not the only one to get lucky that day. Maybe the Magombera chameleons got lucky too.

Marshall’s conservation work is part of a joint project between University of York in England and the Flamingo Land zoo and theme park.

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David Max Braun
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn