A new species has been discovered in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and researchers believe it could be the first of its kind in the world.
The new species is named escalante pumila, after its long and graceful tail.
It has the longest and most robust trunk of any known species of tree-dwelling dragon, according to research published in the journal Science Advances.
Dr Michael Smith from the University of New South Wales said the species was a “significant evolutionary advance” for the reef.
“It is one of the first known tree-feeding dragons in the reef, which is a big step forward in understanding its ecology and behaviour,” he said.
“We have a really exciting opportunity to get a lot of knowledge out there about this animal that has never been studied before.”
Mr Smith said the new dragon’s trunk was not a natural appendage.
“The trunk is not a normal tree trunk; it is more of a very long tree trunk,” he told ABC Radio Perth.
“Its a very unique evolutionary trait of this tree-living dragon.”
Dr Smith said it was not yet clear if the new turtle-eating bird species could become a new species in its own right.
“I think that we’ll have to wait and see whether the species can really be called an entirely new species, or whether there are some morphological and other differences that allow it to be a new animal,” he explained.
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