Calumma Benovskyi, A New Fossil Chameleon From Kenya

08/02/2020

A new study presents a detailed examination of the best preserved chameleon fossil skull known, using micro-CT scans, geometric morphometrics and phylogenetic methods. An early Miocene fossil from Rusinga Island (early Miocene, Lake Victoria, Kenya), is assigned to genus Calumma, opening a wide field for interpretation of the origin of chameleons and their distribution in Africa and Madagascar. The first author of the description is of Slovak origin and describes the new species in honor of a Slovak explorer, "Count Móric Beňovský (also spelled Benyovszky). He was born in Slovakia (Vrbové, 9. 20. 1746) and died at the age of 39 in Madagascar (5. 23. 1786). He is known as an important traveler and adventurer - the first European to sail in the North Pacific Ocean (seven years before James Cook) and the first person who explored Saint Lawrence Island. He traveled to Madagascar, where local tribal chiefs elected him as a "king" (ampansacabe) of Madagascar in 1776. His story parallels the history of Calumma - born abroad, he reached the island by sailing across the ocean."

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