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In the news: between Jan. 19 - Jan. 26, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in the media between Jan. 19 and Jan. 26, 2015

Undercover researchers: Never-before-seen lizards for sale in Philippines - Philippine Star

A team of undercover researchers based at the University of Kansas discovered two species of water monitor lizard that were previously unknown to science being sold in the Philippines. The team was led by Rafe Brown, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

Over a five-year period, the team of KU researchers visited various markets where monitor lizards were sold as pets or meat. The team genetically analyzed the reptiles at KU in an effort to build genetic databases to help Philippine police and conservationists by serving as enforcement references for confiscated animals. During this process, researchers discovered genetic varieties of water monitor lizards that differed sharply from those common to areas surrounding Manila.

Brown and his team found two lizards that were "morphologically cryptic," meaning they looked much like known species of monitor lizard, but their genetic variation indicated they were evolutionarily distinctive, qualifying them as unique species. Now, the two new species are becoming a priority for conservation efforts.

The National Science Foundation funded this work. The Philippine Biodiversity Management Bureau and the KU Biodiversity Institute supported Brown and his students throughout the project. 

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