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Outsiders

Dwarf Dragons Discovered in South America

Scientists have found a new species in the jungles of Ecuador

Photo: Pablo Venegas / Zookeys Journal

In news that will come as music to the ears of Game of Thrones fans everywhere, scientists have discovered several new species which they’re calling “dwarf dragons”.

This study, published yesterday, proudly announced the discovery of three brand new species of Enyalioides, a type of lizard that (according to National Geographic): “resemble miniature versions of mythical dragons”, in the jungles of Peru and Ecuador.

Although they don’t appear to have wings or, we assume, the ability to breath fire, the little beasts do look remarkably like their legendary namesakes.

Photo: Game of Thrones / Luis Coloma Zookeys Journal

The discovery of the dwarf dragons is particularly unusual  because of their size. Despite their nickname, the 13cm-long creatures are one of the larger and more colourful species of lizard in the South American forests.

So how come they weren’t discovered before?

“We just were too scared to go and look for more.”

The answer, according to Omar Torres-Carvajal, curator of reptiles at the Museo de Zoología QCAZ at the Catholic University of Ecuador in Quito, is in their choice of habitat.

Political unrest in Ecuador means that the area the dwarf dragons call home is considered off-limits for scientists.

A male dwarf dragon. Photo: Pablo Venegas / Zookeys Journal

So despite finding the first unusual specimen back in 2005, Torres-Carvajal and his team couldn’t go out looking for a second specimen that would confirm it was a new species, and not just a one-off freak.

“The reason we didn’t find more is that we didn’t actually look,” he told National Geographic. “We just were too scared to go and look for more.”

Which raises the tantalising question of whether there may be more, and potentially larger, species of dwarf dragon lurking out there in the jungle.

As recently as 2006 scientists knew of only a handful of species in the same family, but this latest discovery brings the total number up to 15. So who knows what may still be out there?

OK so realistically it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing this any time soon… but you never know eh?

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