Some animal species live such secret lives that even acknowledging their existence can prove difficult. Such is the case with the critically endangered Pinocchio Anole. The reclusive reptile is spotted so infrequently, researchers once considered the species to be extinct until 2005 when it was seen for the first time in 50 years. January, 2013 marks the second time, with a research team spotting a single male Pinocchio Anole in the remote cloud forests of Northwest Ecuador. And now they’ve released the high definition footage for all the world to see.
The rare Anole is seen clinging to a branch over a stream in a pristine stretch of cloud forest. Well adapted to the higher elevation, the Pinocchio Anole manages to maintain a freaky yet beautiful presence. Its scaly reptilian skin reveals a mostly green creature with brilliant camouflage markings of black, blue and white across the torso. But the lizard’s most prominent feature is its elongated noselike appendage, separating this unique species from other lizards crawling the jungle floor.
According to scientists, the exaggerated facial protuberance serves one purpose and one purpose only: to help the Pinocchio Anole find a mate. The distinct facial feature is unique to male Pinocchio Anoles, using the strange appendage to advertise its good genes to potential female mates. This presents a bit of an evolutionary irony when you consider the limited number of Pinocchio Anoles in existence. A male encountering a female in the wild must be relatively uncommon, not to mention the female’s instinctive tendency to be a choosy breeder.
It’s remarkable that the Pinnochio Anole species has managed to survive extinction despite its limited range and population. From it’s secluded habitat, we can conclude that the reptile prefers a quiet life nestled in the wilderness, far away from the destructive reach of people. The genetic survival trait developed by the males is surprising twist to the story, and a much welcomed feature to a dwindling species in dire need of any evolutionary assistance it can get.