Another endemic reptile species has been added to the biodiversity of Cyprus as announced on Monday by the University of Cyprus (UCy).

According to a UCy press release, the lizard known as “kοurkoutas” in Cyprus corresponds to a distinct species (Laudakia cypriaca), which is found only in Cyprus and which now belongs to the country`s important biodiversity along with the Cypriot snake (Hierophis cypriensis) and the Troodos lizard (Phoenicolacerta troodica).

These lizards were thought to correspond to a species with a wide distribution throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, however, as reported, the study of the genetic material (DNA), which was carried out at the Laboratory of Ecology and Biodiversity of the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Cyprus, in collaboration with the Natural History Museum of Crete of the University of Crete and researchers from Austria, Germany and Turkey, showed that the Cyprus lizard corresponds to a distinct species, revealing also the existence of two other species, with the former (Laudakia vulgaris) spreading to the neighbouring countries of the Near East (Syria, Jordan, Israel and Egypt) and the latter (Laudakia stellio) limited to Greece and Turkey.

Finally, it is noted that the study results were published in the distinguished scientific journal Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society and provided important data on the evolution of these animals in the eastern Mediterranean, such as the estimation of the time periods during which each of their different lineages evolved, according to which it appears that kourkoutas was diversified in Cyprus about 2.5 million years ago at the beginning of the “Ice Age”, which brought the coasts of Cyprus closer to those of Syria and Israel.

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