‘Extinct’ Pinocchio Lizard Reemerges In Ecuador’s Cloud Forest [VIDEO]

By Philip Ross on October 6, 2013 12:55 PM EDT

lizard forest
The cloud forests of Ecuador, like the one pictured here in Costa Rica, are tropical, mossy forests characterized by frequent low-level cloud cover. They're a perfect hiding place for the elusive Pinocchio lizard. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Talk about having a leg, err, a nose up on the competition. The Pinocchio lizard, a type of anole lizard previously thought to be extinct, recently made an appearance, nose first, in the remote cloud forests of northwest Ecuador.

The Pinocchio lizard, named after the unscrupulous Disney puppet for its long, nose-like appendage, has been witnessed just three times in the wild since 2005, according to Live Science. The anole was first identified in 1953, but disappeared from view for over 55 years. Experts assumed the strange-looking reptile had gone extinct.

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The species has been found in just four locations in the world, all of them along the same stretch of road in Ecuador. Researchers and photographers from the educational and ecotourism company Tropical Herping recently set out to locate the elusive anole, and chanced upon a single male Pinocchio lizard in January after a three-year pursuit.

"After looking for so long ... It was very thrilling to find this strange lizard," Alejandro Arteaga, a co-founder of Tropical Herping, told Live Science.

They were able to photograph the creature, which they'll include in the company's book, "The Amphibians and Reptiles of Mindo," a rural region a few hours' drive northwest of Ecuador's capital city Quito.

So what's with the lizard's giant schnoz? The Pinocchio lizard's sniffer actually serves no functional purpose. It's just a way for the anole to market its sexual prowess to its female counterparts - like nature's version of a sexy sports car.

Here's a quick video from Tropic Journey's in Nature showing the Pinocchio lizard in action. Try not to stare at its huge nose - it's rude to gawk, regardless of the species.

Read more from iScience Times:

'Extinct' Hula Frog Rediscovered In Israel Declared A Living Fossil

'Extinct' Seychelles Turtle Species Never Existed, Scientists Say

Legless Lizards Discovered In California: How Do They Differ From Snakes?

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