The University of Iowa

UI researcher and colleagues discover new species of ancient Asian lizard

June 7th, 2013

By Gary Galluzzo for Iowa Now

Russell Ciochon's new found lizard species

A new species of lizard doesn’t come along every day. Even less common is a new lizard species named for a 1960s rock star.

But that’s exactly what University of Iowa paleoanthropologist Russell Ciochon and his co-authors reveal in an article published in the June 5 issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The lizard was a plant-eater, like present-day iguanas, that lived in the jungles in Southeast Asia about 40 million years ago. At some 60 pounds and six feet in length, the lizard was one of the largest of its kind—making it a veritable “king” of land-dwelling lizards.

Surprisingly, the research that resulted in this new species, “Barbaturex morrisoni,” almost never came about because the discovery is based upon fossils that Ciochon helped find some 35 years ago in Burma and which had been stored in California for decades.

Read more about this lizard and how it got its rock star name at Iowa Now.