Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

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Hans Breuer (twoton)
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Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » November 29th, 2011, 2:01 am

Hi all,

for a series of presentations at the Sarawak Museum, I need as much material as possible on the Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis), especially as regards information on its status as the evolutionary link between lizards and snakes.

Could anyone point me in the right direction? (online material preferred)

Alfred Russell Wallace, the founder of the Museum, and I thank you very much in advance! :-)

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by -EJ » November 29th, 2011, 3:53 am

I think your best reference is going to be The Systematic Position of Lanthanotis and the Affinities of the Anguinomorphan Lizards by Charles Bogart, 1954. I don't know where you can find it. It is quite an extensive paper and it looks like it is exactly what you are looking for.

I'll go one better although you could have done the same...

http://digitallibrary.amnh.org/dspace/handle/2246/1146

I have an original copy... blew my mind that it was available online. It appears that most of the Museum of Natural History publications are available online.

Have a look through this...
http://www.cnah.org/cnah_pdf.asp

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » November 29th, 2011, 4:38 am

Thank you very much, EJ! Heavy stuff, that....good thing I don't have to lecture about this. This is for a series of seminars aimed at introducing the zoological and anthropological exhibits at Kuching's Sarawak Museum to future museum guides. I only do the snake talks, which means I have two hours explaining the snakes (or, rather, their plaster models) in the museum to the guides, and, more importantly, try to ease, if not erase, their innate fear of snakes, so they in turn can convey this information to visitors.

Incidentally, I've also taken on the task of updating the snake tags, among which are such gems as "Naja hannah", "Bioga (sic) cynodon", and "Naja naja" (an animal that doesn't exist here - they meant N. sumatrana. But the upshot is that the wooden cases housing the plaster snake collection are from the very first days of the museum, which was really set up by Alfred R. Wallace himself. I hadn't been aware of that fact until this morning, and the feeling of being in the presence of things old Alfie himself might have touched was overwhelming....a little like catching Eddie Van Halen's sweaty guitar pick :-)

To be sure, it's a quaint and rather moth-eaten little museum, but its history is full of Victorian heavyweights, and some of the the collections behind the curtains are world-class.....I'm still in awe they asked me to volunteer!

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by -EJ » November 29th, 2011, 4:47 am

Sounds exciting. The best of luck to you. Have you ever seen one of those in the wild?
Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:Thank you very much, EJ! Heavy stuff, that....good thing I don't have to lecture about this. This is for a series of seminars aimed at introducing the zoological and anthropological exhibits at Kuching's Sarawak Museum to future museum guides. I only do the snake talks, which means I have two hours explaining the snakes (or, rather, their plaster models) in the museum to the guides, and, more importantly, try to ease, if not erase, their innate fear of snakes, so they in turn can convey this information to visitors.

Incidentally, I've also taken on the task of updating the snake tags, among which are such gems as "Naja hannah", "Bioga (sic) cynodon", and "Naja naja" (an animal that doesn't exist here - they meant N. sumatrana. But the upshot is that the wooden cases housing the plaster snake collection are from the very first days of the museum, which was really set up by Alfred R. Wallace himself. I hadn't been aware of that fact until this morning, and the feeling of being in the presence of things old Alfie himself might have touched was overwhelming....a little like catching Eddie Van Halen's sweaty guitar pick :-)

To be sure, it's a quaint and rather moth-eaten little museum, but its history is full of Victorian heavyweights, and some of the the collections behind the curtains are world-class.....I'm still in awe they asked me to volunteer!

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » November 29th, 2011, 4:55 am

Thanks! No, I haven't, and as far as I know, few people ever have...but the plaster models are cute -)

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Mike Pingleton » November 29th, 2011, 5:17 am

wow....walking around in Wallace's footsteps must be pretty cool. What do you think your chances are at seeing that Lanthanotus beastie someday?

Have a care with that superfluous second ell in Russel - Alfred's shade may rise up before you in indignation :D

-Mike

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » November 29th, 2011, 5:25 am

Mike Pingleton wrote:wow....walking around in Wallace's footsteps must be pretty cool. What do you think your chances are at seeing that Lanthanotus beastie someday?
Slimmer than me, that's for sure :-)
Have a care with that superfluous second ell in Russel - Alfred's shade may rise up before you in indignation :D
Dang. Here I am: The Man Who Read The Malay Archipelago Five Times And Still Can't Spell The Bloody Author's Bloody Name :-)

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Gluesenkamp » November 29th, 2011, 5:55 am

Hans,
This may be helpful:
TRANSACTIONS OF THE SAN DIEGO SOCIETY OF NATURAL HISTORY
Volume 21 Number 11 pp. 167-202 5 December 1986
The evolution of helodermatid squamates, with description of a
new taxon and an overview of Varanoidea.
Pregill et al.

http://www.archive.org/stream/transacti ... d_djvu.txt

EXCERPT:
"McDowell and Bogert (1954) were the first to place helodermatids in a systematic
framework that combined them with Varanus and Lanthanotus as a group distinct
from other extant anguimorph squamates. McDowell and Bogert ( 1954) altered Romer's
(1956) classification by removing Lanthanotus from Helodermatidae and placing it
closer to Varanidae. They assigned Helodermatidae to Varanoidea instead of Anguioi-
dea (Diploglossa), and recommended the designation "Varanoidea" over "Platynota."
Hence, Varanoidea included Varanidae, Lanthanotidae, Helodermatidae, and the ex-
tinct families Dolichosauridae, "Aigialosauridae" and Mosasauridae. With some mod-
ifications, Rieppel (1 980a) corroborated their conclusions, but used the name Platynota
for this taxon. In that paper and in a companion study on the postcranial osteology of
Lanthanotus (Rieppel 1980Z?), he regarded the three extant families as a monophyletic
assemblage within the more inclusive Platynota. Elsewhere, Gauthier (1982) discussed
Varanoidea with reference to the articulation between the dentary and post-dentary
bones, a character complex providing insight into anguimorph phylogeny.

The evolutionary history becomes cluttered, however, in consideration of several
fossils from the late Cretaceous of North America and Asia, and the Paleogene of
Europe that can be interpreted as at or near the base of helodermatid and varanoid
phylogeny. For example, Estes (1964) proposed Parasaniwidae to accommodate two
taxa from the late Cretaceous Lance Formation of Wyoming: Parasaniwa wyomingensis
Gilmore and Paraderma bogerti Estes. More recently Estes (1983a) synonymized Par-
asaniwidae with the more inclusive designation Necrosauridae Hoffstetter, a family
constituted by Estes to include Necrosaurus, Parasaniwa, Eosaniwa, Provaranasaurus,
and Colpodontosaurus.

Paraderma bogerti is in ways similar to necrosaurids but remains even more
problematical, primarily because it is so poorly represented by fossils. We regard it as
the earliest known member of Helodermatidae.

Borsuk-Bialynicka (1984) described several new anguimorphs collected from Up-
per Cretaceous deposits of Mongolia. Two of these, Proplatynotia longirostrata and

Gobidenna pulchrum, she referred to as "necrosaurian grade lizards," primitive platy-
notans whose relationships among anguimorphs remain problematic. Furthermore,
Gobidenna possesses a few features described as Hcloderma-\ike. Besides these taxa,
Borsuk-Bialynicka (1984) reported the first known remains of a fossil lanthanotine,
Cherminotus longifrons, a new varanine, Saniwides mongoliensis, as well as additional
material of the enigmatic varanid Tel masaurus granger! Gilmore. These new varanoids,
though difficult to place unambiguously, do suggest that the lineages represented by
Heloderma, Lanthanotus and Varanus are of considerable antiquity. The incomplete
nature of the Cretaceous fossils makes their early history difficult to resolve.

The discovery of these new helodermatid and varanid fossils, and our interpretation
of novel characters, inspired this review of helodermatid phylogeny. The paper is
organized into three parts. Part I reviews the diagnosis of Varanoidea in an attempt to
clarify those characters that have been troublesome and ambiguous. We then (Part II)
describe the new helodermatid fossils from the early Miocene of Nebraska, and discuss
another from the latest Paleocene of Wyoming. In light of these we reinterpret Helo-
derma texanum and those fossils previously assigned to H. matthewi in a discussion
of the diagnostic features of Helodermatidae. A phylogeny based on this evidence is
presented. Having this background, together with information from Part III on their
natural history, we propose that the principal specialization of helodermatid squamates
is a distinctive feeding mode. This is readily observed in the stout jaws and sturdily
constructed skull architecture designed for crushing large prey. Venom delivery occurs
in the more derived species as a superimposed specialization. For these reasons we will
argue for the inclusion of Paraderma bogerti in Helodermatidae. We conclude our
presentation of helodermatid phylogeny based on morphology by demonstrating (Part
III) some concomitant associations with the natural history, behavior, and feeding
biology of captive and wild animals."

On another note, I have heard of them being found in fish traps set in rice paddies at the edge of forest and in recently cleared forest plots. Cool critters.

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Harold De Lisle » November 29th, 2011, 8:43 am

Probably the best account of Lanthanotus can be found in pp. 535 ff. in Eric Pianka's Varanoid Lizards of the World. Although almost ever heading begins with the words "Little is known ..." lol

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by -EJ » November 29th, 2011, 8:48 am

You're going to dismiss Bogarts account?????
Harold De Lisle wrote:Probably the best account of Lanthanotus can be found in pp. 535 ff. in Eric Pianka's Varanoid Lizards of the World. Although almost ever heading begins with the words "Little is known ..." lol

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Gluesenkamp » November 29th, 2011, 9:06 am

No slight on the Bogart paper but any understanding of the evolutionary history of this lizard and its allies requires deep digging into the paleo lit. Lots of cool stuff from the US and the Gobi. Basically, we have only a handful of representatives of this once-diverse group. Also, Michael Lee's work on mosasaurs is very illuminating. He also described a snake with legs about a dozen years ago.

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by -EJ » November 29th, 2011, 9:16 am

Interesting... but that is how change occurs. I've not seen a better accunt.

You throw me off how the Mosassaur relates to this discussion.
Gluesenkamp wrote:No slight on the Bogart paper but any understanding of the evolutionary history of this lizard and its allies requires deep digging into the paleo lit. Lots of cool stuff from the US and the Gobi. Basically, we have only a handful of representatives of this once-diverse group. Also, Michael Lee's work on mosasaurs is very illuminating. He also described a snake with legs about a dozen years ago.

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Gluesenkamp » November 29th, 2011, 10:47 am

Look it up. I'll give you a hint: it is on the bottom of the vertebral centrum.

Andy

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by -EJ » November 29th, 2011, 12:12 pm

Sorry... not going to waste my time. I'm only going to guess that there is a connection to varanids and it has to do with backbones... regardless... a huge stretch... and still not worth my time considering I could care less.
Gluesenkamp wrote:Look it up. I'll give you a hint: it is on the bottom of the vertebral centrum.

Andy

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » November 30th, 2011, 2:52 am

Thank you very much, everyone! Sorry for instigating a bit of a civil war here, but I guess it's all in the name of science :-)

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by justinm » November 30th, 2011, 10:54 am

Hans, these are neat animals that I haven't thought much of for years now. Thanks!

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by TNWJackson » November 30th, 2011, 3:22 pm

There is no modern evidence to suggest that lanthanotids are the link between snakes and lizards. Snakes are just a highly derived group of lizards, nestled in the middle of the broader diversity of lizards. Varanoid lizards may be the sister group to snakes, but this means all varanoids are equally related to snakes (ie. Lanthanotus is no closer to snakes than Varanus or Heloderma). You'll want to review a bunch of recent molecular papers on Squamata phylogeny to give a balanced and up to date view of this topic I think. I'm happy to send you some of those papers if you like, PM me and let me know. :)

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by TNWJackson » November 30th, 2011, 7:54 pm

Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote: Incidentally, I've also taken on the task of updating the snake tags, among which are such gems as "Naja hannah", "Bioga (sic) cynodon", and "Naja naja" (an animal that doesn't exist here - they meant N. sumatrana. But the upshot is that the wooden cases housing the plaster snake collection are from the very first days of the museum, which was really set up by Alfred R. Wallace himself. I hadn't been aware of that fact until this morning, and the feeling of being in the presence of things old Alfie himself might have touched was overwhelming....a little like catching Eddie Van Halen's sweaty guitar pick :-)

To be sure, it's a quaint and rather moth-eaten little museum, but its history is full of Victorian heavyweights, and some of the the collections behind the curtains are world-class.....I'm still in awe they asked me to volunteer!
Just went back and read this. Sounds like a fantastic opportunity to educate whilst learning Hans. I too would be pretty awed to be contributing to an institution founded by Wallace - he is rather an idol of mine.

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by MuayThaipan » November 30th, 2011, 9:50 pm

You need to talk to Robert Sprackland about this he's on Facebook he helped me with research on them and I would say he is the foremost authority on them in the world, hopes this helps Hans, Rice Paddies are supposedly good areas to find them, to repay me for this info if you ever find one you owe me many many pictures.

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Robert Mendyk » December 1st, 2011, 6:42 pm

Lanthanotus are strange animals indeed... I was hoping to miraculously encounter one during my brief time in Sarawak this past July, but no such luck. I guess for now I'll have to make do with pickled stuff.

Image

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Robert Mendyk » December 1st, 2011, 6:43 pm

Hans, if you email me, I have a few papers and notes on Lanthanotus that I'd be happy to share with you.

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by AsydaBass » December 1st, 2011, 6:55 pm

Robert, that is awesome!

-Don

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » January 7th, 2013, 2:20 am

...and I forgot my email :-)

[email protected]

Thanks again!

Hans
Robert Mendyk wrote:Hans, if you email me, I have a few papers and notes on Lanthanotus that I'd be happy to share with you.

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » January 7th, 2013, 3:30 am

Aw, fer chrissakes, that should have gone to Robert by PM :-) Why is it that we can post, but not edit the posts anymore? New rules for 2013?

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by intermedius » January 7th, 2013, 7:41 am

I'm probably wrong, but is there or were there theories that Boids/Typhlopidae evolved seperately from colubrids (in which colubridae and some primitive species like the split jawed snakes and possibly atractaspids evolved seperately)?

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Tom » April 17th, 2013, 12:47 am

Thought I'd update this with a picture that popped up on my newsfeed, taken at I-Zoo in Japan. They seem to have managed to bring one (or more?) into captivity...

Image

Image

Image

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » April 17th, 2013, 1:08 am

Interesting. I thought there were none in captivity at all!

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by justinm » April 17th, 2013, 7:02 pm

I'm stupefied, that's an amazing animal. I hope to get my own eyes on one someday. Thanks for sharing that.

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Shane_TX » April 17th, 2013, 8:24 pm

Neat. Hans is about to be stormed by Axis herpers :lol:

Seriously though, thanks for the update! That's a bucket-list herp for almost every herper, past and present.

Shane

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by -EJ » April 17th, 2013, 8:28 pm

Seems like those photos have caused quite a stir. I'm willing to bet we are going to see more.

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » April 17th, 2013, 8:48 pm

Shane, you might not be far from the truth about Axis herpers, if you mean those of German and Japanese descent: I've asked around here in Sarawak, and it seems the lizard was recently liberated from the island by a few Nipponese tourists. This might be the beginning of a beautiful rift in Malaysian/Indonesian-Japanese relations.

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Shane_TX » April 17th, 2013, 9:02 pm

if you mean those of German and Japanese descent
It was just too easy with the old one-liner about Germans.... ;) Apparently Crutchfield is now a star for being locked up abroad (heard it on facebook anyway).

:beer:
Shane

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » April 17th, 2013, 9:16 pm

Shane_TX wrote:
Apparently Crutchfield is now a star for being locked up abroad (heard it on facebook anyway)
Whaddaya know....where?

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Scott Waters » April 17th, 2013, 11:59 pm

Dan interviewed some Japanese guys who found one.....

www.herpnation.com/audio/hnl-rss1-010513/

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » April 18th, 2013, 1:34 am

Thank you very much for that link. The interview is priceless. These two guys have been looking for the Lanthanotus for over ten years. They finally found it after six trips to Borneo in West Kalimantan. All they know about it is "it eats earthworms" and "hasn't been found in the last 100 years", then they immediately contradict that with "Only twelve have been found...because there are only twelve pics on the Internet". And of course "there are only four pickled specimens" which he proceeds to name, but he doesn't name the ones in Kuching. Again, his knowledge comes from pure Internet research. And I don't believe it's related to Gila monsters at all. They also claim they released him, but suddenly one pops up in a Japanese zoo. Hmmmmm....

(There's no time tracker on the HNR website, so if you don't want to listen to the entire two hours, download the 129 MB file, the segment starts at 51:00)

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Rags » April 18th, 2013, 5:30 am

Wouldn't it be nice to compare the photo's the two Japanese semi professionals ("...half job, half fun.") monitor, which was found and released after years of searching, with the reptile that has turned up in the Japanese zoo. Surely those raised scales along the flank are in a pattern individual to each lizard. Maybe that would help prove/disprove what many of us are thinking?

Seems to me the biggest laugh in the Dan Krull interview was immediately after they were asked "What did you do with it?"

Rags

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Antonsrkn » April 18th, 2013, 6:38 am

Completely unscientific, but everytime I look at the photos I'm struck with the similarities to another amazing Bornean herp. Thought I would point it out. Alright guys tell me I'm not crazy.

Image

Not my photo, link to original: http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] ... otostream/
Image

I started writing some stuff about the japanese herpers (probably) collecting the lizard but I deleted it, I'm not going to touch this one.

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Rags » April 18th, 2013, 9:20 am

Anyone asked the Japanese Zoo where they got their incredibly rare reptile from?

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by justinm » April 19th, 2013, 4:51 pm

I looked at the laws regarding exporting in Borneo. Apparently the export of all animals is illegal. So this animal must have been illegally poached. I won't comment but I do feel strongly about that. Here's a link to where I got this, and of course this is the internet and everything on the internet is true. Hans do you know anything about this?

http://malaysia.visahq.com/customs/

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by chris_mcmartin » April 19th, 2013, 5:18 pm

justinm wrote:I looked at the laws regarding exporting in Borneo. Apparently the export of all animals is illegal. So this animal must have been illegally poached. I won't comment but I do feel strongly about that. Here's a link to where I got this, and of course this is the internet and everything on the internet is true. Hans do you know anything about this?

http://malaysia.visahq.com/customs/
Part of Borneo belongs to Malaysia, part comprises the entirety of Brunei, and part belongs to Indonesia. If the Japanese herpetourists found the animal in "West Kalimantan," then they found it in the Indonesian part. Do you have any info regarding the Indonesian export laws? I have a feeling they're more lax, else frilled lizards in captivity wouldn't all be claimed to be from Indonesia vs. Australia.

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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by venomdoc » April 19th, 2013, 5:46 pm

Hi Hans

Here is our 2010 paper that included MRI imaging of their mandibular venom glands http://www.venomdoc.com/venomdoc/Scient ... system.pdf. As for phylogenetic position, it is well established that Lanthanotidae and Varanidae are sister families to each other within the Anguimorpha lizards. So, they are highly derived members within this superfamily, not 'primitive'.

Cheers
B

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Hans Breuer (twoton)
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Re: Bornean Earless Lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis)

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » April 20th, 2013, 8:38 am

justinm wrote:I looked at the laws regarding exporting in Borneo. Apparently the export of all animals is illegal. So this animal must have been illegally poached. I won't comment but I do feel strongly about that. Here's a link to where I got this, and of course this is the internet and everything on the internet is true. Hans do you know anything about this?

http://malaysia.visahq.com/customs/
The animal is indeed fully protected in Sarawak (Malaysia), but I couldn't find anything about its protection status in Kalimantan (Indonesia)

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