Varanus Bitatawa[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Varanus bitatawa, known by the common name Northern Sierra Madre Forest monitor lizard, is a large arboreal frugivorous lizard of the genus Varanus.
The forest monitor lizard can grow to more than 2 metres (6.6 ft) in length but weighs only about 10 kilograms (22 lb). It is brightly colored with stripes of gold flecks. Its scaly body and legs are a blue-black mottled with pale yellow-green dots, and its tail is marked in alternating segments of black and green.
One of only three frugivorous monitor lizards in the world, the forest monitor prefers to eat the fruit of Pandanus trees.
Taxonomy and Distribution:
V. bitatawa is closely related to the Komodo dragon of Indonesia. It was confirmed as a new species in April 2010 by biologists from the University of Kansas. DNA analysis has revealed a deep genetic divergence between this species and its closest relative, Gray's monitor (Varanus olivaceus), which is also a fruit-eater but lives on the southern end of Luzon, rather than the northern end where the forest monitor lizard lives. These findings were published in Biology Letters, a journal of the Royal Society. The lizard's known range is currently limited to the Sierra Madre Forest, in the northeastern coast of the island of Luzon, Philippines.
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