This freaky looking lizard was thought to be extinct for 50 years

Check out Anolis proboscis, also known as the Pinocchio lizard, for obvious reasons. This animal hadn't been seen from the 1960s through to 2005. Now, a team of photographers has finally caught up with the elusive reptile, capturing these remarkable images.

All photos: Alejandro Arteaga & Lucas Bustamante / Tropical Herping.

Also known as the Pinocchio anole — an anole being a type of lizard — it was first discovered in 1953 by an ornithologist working in a remote area of northwest Ecuador. It promptly disappeared from human eyes until 2005, but after a three-year search by Tropical Herping's Alejandro Arteaga in the same region, the long-nosed animal was seen again.


Writing in LiveScience, Douglas Main explains more:

Pinocchio anoles (Anolis proboscis) are an endangered species and have been found in only four locations, mostly along a single stretch of road, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a global environmental group. They have one of the smallest ranges of any lizard in the world, Arteaga said.

The lizard's noselike appendage is a sexually selected trait that likely serves no functional purpose but to advertise a male's good genes; females of the species have no such "noses." Other examples of sexually selected traits include the peacock's brilliant tail-feathers. Extensive research has shown that these traits communicate to the opposite sex that the animals are fit and will sire high-quality offspring.

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