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Lizard Previously Unknown To Science Found On Vietnam Menu 133

eldavojohn writes "A lizard long served on the menu in the Mekong Delta has recently caught the attention of scientists when it was noted that all animals in the species appeared identical as well as female. The species appears to be a hybrid of two other species (like a mule or liger). But the curious thing is that this hybrid isn't sterile — it reproduces asexually. The species, known for some time in Vietnam, has now officially been named Leiolepis ngovantrii."


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Lizard Previously Unknown To Science Found On Vietnam Menu

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  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @04:35PM (#34200470)

    Usually means unknown to western science.

    I'm sure some ancient biologist documented them but it was never translated to English, if written at all. Its hard enough for the casual observer to tell a lizard's gender that nobody even noticed.

    Rural people, even western people, see things every day in their environment that they assume is well known, and never bother to document. When noticed "scientists" it somehow becomes a discovery.

    Someone "Discovered" America. Those already living in America at the time "Discovered" large sailboats at about the same time. Perspective.

  • by alphastrike ( 1938886 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @04:38PM (#34200504)
    That's interesting, sexual reproduction is meant to increase genetic variation within a population and adapting to evolutionary changes. An animal that forgoes this process and clones itself to reproduce must of had genetic defects already weeded out from the gene pool at large. It might have perfectly adapted to survive in its surroundings, without experiencing harsh evolutionary demands. If this lizard has been around for millions of years, it might be interesting to analyze genetic variance of individual lizards, and see how many original lines exist within the population. After all if they are clones, it's possible that the entire species is consisted of clones descended from ONE individual! That's pretty rad stuff for the animal kingdom.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 11, 2010 @05:23PM (#34201000)

    Cloning does not mean you must be perfect. The clone is genetically just as good as the parent, so you only must be able to live.

    The big advantage of sexual reproduction is that you get much more combinations, i.e. you can combine your faults much better and carry around a much bigger amount of faults.

    So clones are usually better, but only as long as the rules do not change. Once a fault gets a bonus because it gives you some immunity to some illness, the clones have a hard time, because they do not collect new faults that easily...

  • by Bowling Moses ( 591924 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @06:10PM (#34201536) Journal
    "Rural people, even western people, see things every day in their environment that they assume is well known, and never bother to document. When noticed "scientists" it somehow becomes a discovery."

    There's a reason for that. If you or I or a local group of people know something, great. But it's local, and limited, and easy to wipe out. Once that knowledge escapes that small group, either by the actions of that group or by an external factor it becomes something greater: part of the shared knowledge of humanity from which someone with no connection to the initial source of information can nonetheless make use of. For instance I'm working on a paper with a Chinese collaborator about the traditional use of certain plants by local farmers to combat pest insects. We're describing what those local farmers are doing (and probably have been doing for centuries) and providing an additional biochemical perspective; this knowledge will for the first time be available globally. It could lead to new insecticides, or perhaps the wider adoption of these plants themselves as organic insecticidal agents, and either or both could be done far outside the isolated community in which the use of these plants was found. This work is just a tiny part of a much larger, decades-long, global research effort by thousands of scientists (note lack of scare quotes) to try and take traditional medicine and other practices (including westerners: aspirin [], for example), discover what works, how it works, and make that knowledge generally available. How's that for some perspective?

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN