New Species of Lizard Discovered in Central Laos

New Species of Lizard Discovered in Central Laos
The Khammouane karst dragon (photo: Peter Brakels)

A new study published on 10 October revealed the existence of a new dragon-like lizard species in Laos, sparking the interest of environmentalists and animal conservation experts. 

Researchers from the National University of Laos and the Zoological Research Institute of China have been studying the species since it was first discovered in August 2022. 

Nestled within the limestone karst landscapes of central Laos, this novel species of lizard, Laodracon carsticola, informally known as the Khammouane karst dragon, is the sole representative of the Laodracon genus in the region. 

The small brown “dragon” distinguishes itself from its fellow lizard-like species by having an elongated tail and a unique scale pattern.

Because of its unique DNA and physical features, researchers have classified the Khammouane karst dragon as part of a new genus, Laodracon, or the Laos karst dragons.

The photo shows a camouflaged lizard on a rock. 

According to the study, these small dragons stay still and blend into their surroundings of shadows and light, making it difficult to spot them until they move.

Locals who have seen the creatures consider them rare and noticed they are most active in the afternoon.

This lizard’s presence in the limestone karst regions highlights the rich, yet fragile, biodiversity of these areas. Limestone karst habitats are renowned for sheltering unique and often endangered species, which are under the relentless pressure of harmful human activities such as deforestation and mining.

Conservationists emphasize the need to protect these critical ecosystems, not only to preserve the newly discovered dragon-like lizard but also the multitude of other species that call these limestone karst regions home.