24 newly discovered lizard species face extinction
Researchers led by Blair Hedges, professor of biology at Penn State University, attributed their loss to the mongoose, a predatory mammal introduced by farmers to control rats in sugarcane fields during the late 19th century.
"The mongoose is the predator we believe is responsible for many of the species' close-to-extinction status in the Caribbean," said Hedges, the journal Zootaxa reports.
"Our data show that the mongoose, which was introduced from India in 1872 and spread around the islands over the next three decades, has nearly exterminated this entire reptile fauna, which had gone largely unnoticed by scientists and conservationists until now," said Hedges, according to a Penn statement.
About 130 species of reptiles are added to the global species count each year in dozens. However, not since the 1800s have more than 20 reptile species been added at one time.