July 2012 - Monitor lizards originate from Asia
In a study conducted by the Naturalis Biodiversity Center researchers have confirmed that monitor lizards originate from Asia.
Although monitor lizards are common in Asia, Africa and Australia, nobody knew where the lizards originated from. A one-and-a-half year study on the genome of 38 of the total of 73 species have concluded that the origin of the species is Asia. This was published by researchers of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the journal Biology Letters on Wednesday the 19th of July. IBL PhD student Freek Vonk is one of the co-authors.
“We now know with certainty the origin of the monitor lizard. This tells us more about the history and the development of the Earth”, says Vonk. “But as far as practical applications go, this information doesn’t really contribute to mankind.”
The PhD-candidate is still excited about the discovery. “Life is one big puzzle and this is just one more piece we can fit in the bigger picture. So yes, we will definitely open a bottle of champagne to celebrate this discovery.”
Monitor lizards arose some 45 million years ago in Asia and only 41 million years ago did they first colonise Africa and Australia. As far as diversity goes, there are a lot of different species. Some are ground dwelling while others live in trees. The size varies too, while the smallest monitor lizards can be as small as 30cm, the biggest can get to 3 meters long.