A “Living Fossil” Discovered in Temburong, Brunei Darussalam

Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) field assistants unexpectedly discovered a “living fossil” while in Temburong.

The Borneo Earless Monitor (Lanthanotus borneensis) is a rare Bornean endemic lizard, the only known species in the family Lanthanoidae, an ancient lineage of lizards. Despite the name, earless monitors are capable of hearing, although they lack an external visible ear. Similar to snakes, they have a forked tongue that is used to smell their food. So far, this small monitor has been found only in the coastal lowlands of northern Sarawak and West Kalimantan.

This is the first time this lizard has been discovered in Brunei. It was first described in 1878 from specimens near Kuching, East Malaysia. It is estimated that it has been around since the mid-Cretaceous or 100 million years. This “living fossil” is now confirmed to occur in Brunei Darussalam thanks to the unexpected, exciting discovery by Justin Jeffrey and Jerry Wong.

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