Friday, 19 September 2008 5:58 AM

New Iguana Species Found in Fiji

A new species of iguana has been found on the island of Ovalau in Fiji, bringing the number of iguana species in Fiji to three, instead of two as was previously thought.

According to Fiji Times Online, the discovery follows 'detailed genetic and morphological analyses that show that there are three living kinds of Brachylophus iguanas'.

Associate Professor at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, and lead author of the study, Dr Scott Keogh, said that the new species, which has been named Brachylophus bulabula, 'was always in Fiji but it was thought to be the banded iguana'.

According to the report, Dr. Scott Keogh said that they made the discovery about a year ago during their "genetic work on Fijian iguanas".

'"We sampled crested iguanas as well as banded iguanas from across the Fiji islands, and then generated DNA sequence data to test their relationships. As part of this work, we discovered that there were three species rather than two"'.

'"This is very important for Fiji because the Fijian iguanas already feature as iconic animals of the region. They are used in advertising and tourism promotion"'.

The banded iguana is also found in Tonga as well as some other islands in the region while the crested iguana is native only to Fiji and is listed as an endangered species.

According to the report, while the status of the new species is unknown, Dr. Keogh says that "they are probably in trouble as well".