New iguana species found in the Caribbean

DAILY MAIL – A new species of iguana has been identified in the Caribbean after scientists analysed the DNA of individuals thought to be an introduced South American variety.

The Southern Antilles iguana, which lives on St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, was shown to form a distinct genetic group.

Known to humans for centuries, it was also found to have unique bodily features including horns on its nose, a high crest and dark brown eyes.

It is the fourth iguana type to be identified in the region in two years, as zoologists tear up the rule-book from previous research, which had classified each as the common green iguana. Fauna and Flora International (FFI), which announced the discovery, said work was already underway to protect the ‘new’ reptiles. Two types identified last year, the very rare Saint Lucia iguana and Grenadines pink rhino iguana, have been named as variations of this species – or subspecies. The former is identified by broad black bands across its body while the latter turns pinkish white in old age.

Zoologists think they may have overlooked the species previously as their juveniles are bright green, just like those of the invasive species, making them ‘virtually indistinguishable’ until they reach adulthood.

Southern Antilles iguana: This is an older individual in the new species. It is also part of a subspecies, the Grenadines pink rhino iguana which turns a pinkish white in old age. PHOTO: DAILY MAIL