GALAPAGOS - BIODIVERSITY

Galapagos iguanas' rosy tale of discovery

What's pink with black spots? Answer: a population of iguanas discovered on the Galapagos Islands which scientists have hailed as a unique species.

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AFP  -  A team of Ecuadoran and Italian researchers have discovered a unique species of pink land iguanas living on the Galapagos Islands, the scientist who wrote the report told AFP.

"It is surprising to have made a find of this magnitude in the 21st century," said Washington Tapia, head of research at the Galapagos National Park.

Researchers at first thought that the iguanas, which are pink with black spots, simply had skin pigmentation problems, Tapia said.

The first pink iguanas were discovered in 1986, and after years of research scientists concluded that it was a unique species.

"We have not yet determined the size of the population, but we estimate that it is small because we have only captured 36 pink iguanas for research up to now," Tapia said in a telephone interview.

The pink species is can be up to 1.8 meters (6 feet) long as measured from tip to tail, and unlike the other land iguanas does not have a row of spines running up its back.

"It is a unique species," Tapia said. "But more research is needed to better determine its unique characteristics."

Made up of 13 main islands, in 1978 UNESCO declared the islands Patrimony of the Humanity.

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