Oldeani Monster

Chameleon Care Guide

Chameleon Care Guide

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Mystery Lizard of East Africa.

Scientific name: Chamaeleo oldeanii, proposed by Peter Scott.

Physical description: Chameleon-like. Brown, with small red spots and a horizontal stripe across each flank. Small horn at the tip of its snout. Long tail.

Distribution: Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania.

Significant sighting: On February 25, 1962, Peter Scott and John and Jane Hunter saw a large chameleon in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area near Oldeani Peak, Tanzania. They captured it, and Scott took it back to England, where it lived for eighteen months. Its remains were preserved a short time before they were lost. Herpetologists were unable to identify the animal.

Possible explanations:

(1) The Dwarf Jackson chameleon

(Chamaeleo jacksonii merumontana), suggested by Dick Hellenius, though this subspecies is confined to the Mount Meru area 90 miles distant.

(2) A juvenile Meller's chameleon (C. melleri).

(3) A hitherto undescribed species, suggested by Peter Scott.

(4) Bradypodion uthmoelleri, a rare chameleon discovered in 1938 and restricted to the Ngorongoro area, proposed by Karl Shuker.

Sources: Peter Scott, Travel Diaries ofa Naturalist (London: Collins, 1983); Karl Shuker, "Here Be Dragons," Fate 49 (June 1996): 31-34.

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