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FLORA AND FAUNA
New 'Moby Dick' lizard species found in Madagascar
by Staff Writers
Montpellier, France (AFP) Jan 15, 2013


Sirenoscincus mobydick. Image courtesy of France's National Centre for Scientific Research.

A new lizard species has been discovered in Madagascar and named "Moby Dick" mermaid skink -- after the albino sperm whale imagined by Herman Melville -- for its flipper-like forelimbs and unpigmented skin, France's National Centre for Scientific Research said Tuesday.

The CNRS said the "Sirenoscincus mobydick" presents a unique combination of anatomical features that can be found in amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds.

The discovery, made by French, Malagasy, American and German researchers, was published in the Zoosystema journal at the end of December.

The centre said the "Moby Dick" lizard was discovered in the dry north-western forests of Madagascar.

Because of its life underground, the animal's skin has lost pigmentation and its eyes have almost disappeared. And although the lizard has retained forelimbs, its hindlimbs have completely disappeared.

The centre called it an "morphological organisation" reminiscent of cetaceans, the carnivorous marine mammals such as whales and dolphins.

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Kenyan officials impound two tonnes of ivory: police
Nairobi (AFP) Jan 15, 2013
Officials in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa have impounded more than 600 pieces of ivory, weighing two tonnes, they said Tuesday, the latest in a series of seizures by Kenyan authorities. "They were labelled as decorating stones and were headed to Indonesia from Tanzania," a police source based at the port told AFP on condition of anonymity. The head of operations at the port, Gitau Git ... read more


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