Oct. 24 - The elusive Pinocchio Lizard, believed for more than 50 years to be extinct, has become a major attraction for scientists since its rediscovery in 2005. The lizard - or anole - is native to a small slice of rainforest in northern Ecuador but is gaining attention mainly for the horn that protrudes from its snout. Rob Muir reports.
Scientifically, it's known as Anolis proboscis, but Ecuador's most elusive reptile is better known as the Pinocchio Lizard. For more than fifty years, it was believed to be extinct but then, in 2005, it was rediscovered and since then, visitors have come from around the world to study the curious, long nosed lizard. Visitors like photographer James Christensen. (SOUNDBITE) JAMES CHRISTENSEN, PHOTOGRAPHER, SAYING: "I would have to say the so called Pinocchio lizard, the Anolis proboscis, is the most extraordinary thing that I have encountered." And with the help of scientists from a conservation group called Tropical Herping, he's back to find it again but at least now, they know where and what to look for. The male of the species is characterised not just by its nose but also by its mottled skin. The female by comparison, prefers a lower profile. But Tropical Herping biologist Lucas Bustamante says scientists want to know more. (SOUNDBITE) LUCAS BUSTAMANTE, TROPICAL HERPING BIOLOGIST, SAYING: "Whenever species that were thought to have disappeared for some time are found, it is very motivating for researchers because it makes us think that the little we knew about their behavior - where they lived, what these species do - was limited. It normally happens with species that have a small distribution range, have good camouflage, or that are simply restricted to an area that scientists can't reach." But now they know where the Pinocchio lizard lives. And the researchers say the more they can learn about Anolis probosic, they better equiiped they'll be to protect it.