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Scientists find 11 chameleon species masquerading as a single species

Scientists have found 11 chameleon species masquerading as a single species in madagascar.

A recent research, headed by Michel Milinkovitch, professor of genetics, evolution, and biophysics at the University Of Geneva (UNIGE) showed that the panther chameleon, native to Madagascar conceals another trick under its flaky skin. It comprises 11 different species.

Professor Milinkovitch's team, along with Achille Raselimanana of the University of Antananarivo looked for genetic explanations that may tell in what way the panther chameleon gets its rare broad colour palette.

These colourations differ from region to region. Some are blue, like the ones found on the island of Nosy Be, whereas other chameleons from different islands can be green, orange or red.

The research team undertook two trips. They went from east to west and accumulated blood specimens from 324 different chameleons. The researchers also clicked their pictures.

Thereafter, the mitochondrial as well as nuclear DNA of all the chameleons was sequenced by the researchers to analyse them, based on the assumption that the variations in pattern and colour are regional.

The research team discovered that the variations in colour and pattern matched the genetic descent of every chameleon species. It also showed that pattern and colour differed from region to region with every location-specific population to be regarded as a separate species.

The study was published on May 24.