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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: New Giant Lizard Identified
6 April 2010 7:01 pm
Stretching 2 meters long from snout to tail and weighing 10 kilograms, the giant monitor lizard Varanus bitatawa shouldn't be hard to miss. But this relative of the Komodo dragon has been surprisingly adept at hiding from curious herpetologists. For 10 years, field researchers in the rainforests of the northern Philippines saw trunks raked by powerful claws and heard local tribes' accounts of the "bitatawa," a lizard whose meat was tastier than that of the well-documented Gray's monitor lizard (Varanus olivaceus). But it wasn't until the summer of 2009, when a pair of graduate students wheedled an adult specimen from hunters, that researchers could count its scales, examine its color pattern, and compare its DNA with that of its relatives. These and other characteristics pin the monster as a new species, the researchers report online tomorrow in Biology Letters. It turns out V. bitatawa's popularity as a protein source among local Agta and Ilongot tribespeople is likely due to its preference for the pineapple-like pandanas fruit, which, according to the natives, sweetens the meat.