A chameleon species lost for 100 years has recently been spotted in Madagascar. On Friday, October 30, 2020, researchers from Madagascar and Germany said that they had discovered several living specimens of Voeltzkow’s chameleon while on an expedition in the northwest portion of the island nation. The team was led by scientists from the Munich State Zoological Collection (SNSB-ZSM), who determined after genetic analysis that the species was closely related to the Labord’s chameleon.

Both species of chameleon only live during the rainy season, and die after a few short months during which they hatch, grow at record speed, mate, fight with rivals, and lay their eggs. They are therefore very difficult to spot for researchers and their habitats are hard to access in poor weather conditions.

During the expedition, the team of scientists found female specimens for the very first time, and noticed that they displayed bright colors when pregnant, stressed, or during encounters with males.

Chameleon

Female and male Voeltzkow chameleons. (Photo: Kathrin Glaw, SNSB – Zoological State Collection Munich)

“Fortunately, for all we know, the Voeltzkow chameleon is not in acute danger of extinction,” says Dr. David Prötzel, also a member of the expedition team, “because its range is probably still relatively large.” That said, the species’ habitat is at risk due to the threat of deforestation in Madagascar.