Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bulabula iguana

from w
How did the iguana get from America to Fiji? And to a little island off the west coast of Vanua Levu? Who knows! But a new species has been found and called 'bulabula' which is nice. Their closest relatives are 5000 miles away! So I suppose Mr Charles Darwin would have an explanation for that. It's just over 200 years since his birth so a salute to him. The Fiji iguana is certainly prettier than it's long-lost cousin on the Galapagos islands which so fascinated Darwin on his travels. Another theory is that the lizard actually started from Mongolia and came down Asia and across to Fiji. This is suggested in a website called Fijian Crested Iguana.

I found some info in Science News on the net and a photo by PaddyRyan. On Geelong Visual Diary I put in some pictures based on the Fiji iguana.

Science News
New Pacific Iguana Discovered In Fiji

ScienceDaily (Sep. 22, 2008) — A new iguana has been discovered in the central regions of Fiji. The colorful new species, named Brachylophus bulabula, joins only two other living Pacific iguana species, one of which is critically endangered. The scientific name bulabula is a doubling of bula, the Fijian word for ‘hello,’ offering an even more enthusiastic greeting.
Green Iguana
Conservation status
Endangered species
Pacific iguanas have almost disappeared as the result of human presence. Two species were eaten to extinction after people arrived nearly 3,000 years ago. The three living Brachylophus iguana species face threats from loss and alteration of their habitat, as well as from feral cats, mongooses and goats that eat iguanas or their food source.

“Our new understanding of the species diversity in this group is a first step in identifying conservation targets,” said Robert Fisher, a research zoologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in San Diego, and coauthor of a study on the new iguana with scientists from the Australian National University and Macquarie University in Australia.

An important study finding for conservation of the genetic diversity in these iguanas is that, with only one exception, each of the 13 islands where living iguanas were sampled showed at least one distinct iguana genetic line that was not seen elsewhere.

The Fiji crested iguana, Brachylophus vitiensis, is gone from many islands it once occupied and is now listed as Critically Endangered on the “Red List” of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The IUCN is the largest global environmental network. “Unfortunately, this new study indicates that the other previously-identified Pacific iguana species, Brachyophus fasciatus, is probably critically endangered also,” Fisher said.

The mystery of how the Pacific iguanas originally arrived has long puzzled biologists and geographers. Their closest relatives are found nearly 5,000 miles away across the ocean in the New World.

“The distinctive Fijian iguanas are famous for their beauty and also their unusual occurrence in the middle of the Pacific Ocean because all of their closest relatives are in the Americas,” said Scott Keogh, an Associate Professor at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, and lead author of the study.

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