18 Sep 2008

New species of iguana found in Fiji

9:27 pm on 18 September 2008

A team of scientists have found a new species of iguana living in Fiji.

The newly-discovered lizard is bright green with white bands, grows up to 90cm long and is thought to be highly endangered.

Associate Professor Scott Keogh from the Australian National University's School of Botany and Zoology said the iguana was the third species of the creatures known to inhabit Fiji.

Mr Keogh said the origin of the Fiji iguanas, which have lived in the Fiji islands for millions of years, had long puzzled scientists.

He said they probably floated across the Pacific Ocean from the Americas 8,000km away, where all other iguana species live.

The new species, Brachylophus bulabula, has been given the common name the Fijian banded iguana.

Mr Keogh said probably only a few hundred of the animals existed, and were under pressure for survival.

"Pretty much in every island in Fiji there has been cats and mongooses and goats introduced, all of which are bad for iguanas," he said.