World June 17, 2016 | 2:16 pm

Dominican naturalist finds new lizard:

Toronto.- University of Toronto-led team has reported thediscovery of a new lizard in the middle of the most- visited island in theCaribbean, strengthening a long-held theory that communities of lizards canevolve almost identically on separate islands, reports Friday.

The chameleon-like lizard – a Greater Antillean anoledubbed Anolis landestoyi for the naturalist who first spotted and photographedit – is one of the first new anole species found in the Dominican Republic indecades.

"As soon as I saw the pictures, I thought, ‘I need tobuy a plane ticket,’" says Luke Mahler of U of T’s Department of Ecology& Evolutionary Biology and lead author of an article on the discoverypublished today online in The American Naturalist.

"Our immediate thought was that this looks likesomething that’s supposed to be in Cuba, not in Hispaniola – the island thatHaiti and the Dominican Republic share," says Mahler. "We haven’treally seen any completely new species here since the early 1980s."

What’s more, the new species could help piece together along-standing puzzle of similar looking species that exist on differentCaribbean islands.

"I got a grainy photo from local naturalist MiguelLandestoy, who saw a nesting pair of birds that were mobbing a branch,"says Mahler. "He saw they were flying around what he thought was a newspecies of heavily camouflaged anole clinging to that branch." It wasn’tpossible to say much from the photo though, and Mahler didn’t think much of it."You get all these people who say they found a new species but it’s almostalways just an atypical individual of a very common species," says Mahler."So you get pretty hardened against thinking claims like these arelegit."

A few years after the initial photo, Landestoy caught oneof the lizards and emailed clear images of the find to Mahler and several otherresearchers he’d been working with. "As soon as I opened the email, Ithought ‘what on earth is that!?,’" says Mahler.

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