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 โ€” an anole being a type of lizard โ€” 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.