Male and female Ecuadorian horned anoles in Mindo, Ecuador
© James Christensen/Minden Picture
Lizard of mystery. Lizard of mystery
The curious case of the Ecuadorian horned anole has fascinated herpetologists, making it an excellent mascot for World Lizard Day. Its story starts in 1953, when the species was discovered near the Ecuadorian town of Mindo. Only a handful of the lizards were found, all males, each sporting the same long snout that earned it the nickname ‘Pinocchio lizard.’ So secretive is this species, that for the next four decades scientists feared it had gone extinct. It wasn’t spotted again until 2004, when researchers glimpsed a female for the first time. She didn’t have a long snout, leading scientists to believe the male’s sword-like appendage is primarily used in courtship (insert your own joke here).