By Tim Binnall
A project aimed at finding proverbial 'lost' creatures managed to locate a breathtaking species of chameleon which has not been seen by scientists in over a century. Known colloquially as Voeltzkow's chameleon and scientifically as Furcifer voeltzkowi, the wondrous reptile was reportedly last observed by researchers in Madagascar back in 1913. Hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive creature once again, a team of conservationists with the Search for Lost Species program journeyed to the island nation in 2018 and announced their findings in a paper published last week.
Initially, the expedition proved futile and it appeared that Voeltzkow's chameleon would remain a relic of the past. However, as the trip was winding down, a native guide with the group stumbled upon one of the creatures in a tree outside of a hotel. In a testament to serendipitous nature of searching for lost species, the owner of the establishment actually indicated that chameleons were not that hard to find since the area becomes inundated with them during the first few months of every year. This was seemingly confirmed by the team as they located a sizeable sample of three males and a whopping 15 female Voeltzkow's chameleon.
The latter discoveries were particularly fruitful to scientists as the female of the species had never been seen before. And, unlike its male counterpart which sports different shades of green coloring depending on its stress levels, the female chameleon boasts a significantly more vivid reaction to such conditions. When agitated, the creature's skin becomes black-and-white striped with a purple streak down the side of its body. Having finally having some living specimens of the creatures in hand, the team plans to study the reptiles in greater detail and hope that the rediscovery of the species is an indication that a similarly lost chameleon last seen in Madagascar back in 1905 may still be lurking somewhere on the island.