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Lizard Previously Unknown To Science Found On Vietnam Menu

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the try-the-bigfoot-burger dept.

Biotech 133

eldavojohn writes "A lizard long served on the menu in the Mekong Delta has recently caught the attention of scientists when it was noted that all animals in the species appeared identical as well as female. The species appears to be a hybrid of two other species (like a mule or liger). But the curious thing is that this hybrid isn't sterile — it reproduces asexually. The species, known for some time in Vietnam, has now officially been named Leiolepis ngovantrii."

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133 comments

I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34200140)

welcome our new supreme Leiolepis ngovantrii overlords.

TERRIBLE RESTAURANT!!!!! (4, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200152)

You got a Lizard on the Menu? I had a fly in the soup!

No tip from me, that's for sure. And I'm telling all my friends about this!

Re:TERRIBLE RESTAURANT!!!!! (1)

VanGarrett (1269030) | more than 3 years ago | (#34201932)

Next time, don't order the fly soup. Try the grub sandwich, instead.

Re:TERRIBLE RESTAURANT!!!!! (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34202302)

I ordered a pulled pork sandwich, and got the same thing as my girlfriend - who'd ordered a hotdog.

This gave me some serious second-thoughts.

Re:TERRIBLE RESTAURANT!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34202790)

What part of the pork did you THINK they'd pull? :D

Re:TERRIBLE RESTAURANT!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34204196)

I know what part your girlfriend would pull...

Tell mom I said hi.

Fly Soup? You at a Stripper Restaurant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34202506)

In a Stripper Restaurant, the soup cums out of the fly.

Re:TERRIBLE RESTAURANT!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203316)

Waiter! This coffee is horrible. It tastes like hot water with a brown crayon in it!

[sips coffee] You're right! I'll go put in another crayon..

Hmmm.. what if (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34200158)

I wonder how the world would function if we reproduced asexually (ie 1 gender only). lol

Re:Hmmm.. what if (4, Funny)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200190)

Us geeks would actually be able to reproduce?

Re:Hmmm.. what if (4, Funny)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200346)

Get pretty crowded in the basement wouldn't it?

Re:Hmmm.. what if (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200680)

Would make LAN parties slightly easier to organise at least.

Re:Hmmm.. what if (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200964)

But everyone would have the same skill level, being clones and all. No cannon fodder.

Re:Hmmm.. what if (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204900)

A good nature vs nurture experiment! One of the clones is bound to randomly think up some better tactics every so often, and in my case any clones who did well would start to improve in confidence and rise to the top of the ranks, while the others would feel demoralised for a while and have a tougher time of it. It must be pretty embarrassing getting repeatedly beat by yourself.

Re:Hmmm.. what if (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34200206)

Welcome to the Slashdot biodome. Stay a while and find out.

Re:Hmmm.. what if (2, Interesting)

The Pirou (1551493) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200372)

Who is to say we don't? Parthenogensis, while generally (allegedly) uncommon outside of invertebrates, is nothing new. If one were given to biblical pontifications, you could say that it's even been documented in humans. I'm more inclined to believe that things I've read in books that were several thousand years old were written due to lies made by an ashamed couple, but given the lack of 'medical science' that we presently have compared to then, I would be a fool to completely write it off. If it's still happening in Komodo's & Boa constrictors, I don't see why it couldn't happen (albeit rarely) in other ranks of Biological Classifications as well.

Re:Hmmm.. what if (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204096)

Eh. If you're going to take the "you can't prove it DOESN'T happen" approach, then we may as well assume that some humans can outrun speeding bullets, stop locomotives dead in their tracks, and leap tall buildings in a single bound. After all, given the lack of 'medical science' that we presently have compared to what we'll have in a hundred years, you'd be a fool to completely write it off, right?

Re:Hmmm.. what if (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200556)

I wonder how the world would function if we reproduced asexually (ie 1 gender only). lol

It would be one honking huge banana republic, obviously.

Biggest question not answered! (4, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200200)

How does it taste?

Re:Biggest question not answered! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34200560)

Quoting the CNN article
  Grismer complained that he had to hold his breath while eating the local dish to appear polite to the restaurant owners.
"You take a bite out of it and it feels like something very old and dead in your mouth," he said.

Re:Biggest question not answered! (5, Informative)

mekongdelta (1938892) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200592)

It tastes quite good, really. It tastes best when fried. It is crispy and sweet, like snakes. I used to hunts these lizards and ate them once in a while but back then (more than 20 years ago) few people ate them unless they had Asthma. It is an effective medicine to treat Asthma.

Re:Biggest question not answered! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34202234)

Does this fact that this account seems to have been created expressly to answer this question make its truthfulness suspect?

Re:Biggest question not answered! (1)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 3 years ago | (#34202690)

My wife is a native VNese speaker and her native language artifacts in English are nothing like mekongdelta's, so yeah, I think it's rather suspect.

Re:Biggest question not answered! (5, Interesting)

mekongdelta (1938892) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203406)

I really enjoy your comments! I am a long time /. reader but have never posted a comment. Yes, I created this account to specifically post my comments on this topic. I am a native Vietnamese speaker too who used to live in Can Tho city - a city that is right at Mekong Delta. When I was a teenager hunting these lizards was my favorite activity after school. They run very fast, they are usually on the ground but they can climb trees as fast. And their bites can be lethal, or so I thought (there was a rumor that when they bite you, you had to drink a mouthful of water quickly; otherwise, if the lizards drink the water before you do, you die ! :-( Like I said their meat tastes quite good, actually very good (otherwise, they wouldn't be on the menu) but the main reason I like to hunt them because catching them are fun andI can sell them for a few bucks (we call it Dong in Vietnam)

Full name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34200286)

Leiolepis ngovantrii yummis

Yes, but (0, Redundant)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200300)

Yes, but how does it taste?

Re:Yes, but (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34204656)

JUST LIKE CHICKEN!

Really. Closer mabye to Rattlesnake, but a tad gamier.

Great jokes guys... a lot of high-5:funny here.

It tastes quite good, really. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34200308)

It tastes best when fried. It is crispy and sweet, similar to snakes.
I used to hunt these lizards and ate them once in a while but mainly I fed them to my pigs. Back then (more than 20 years ago), few people ate them.
 

Iguana on a Stick Eh? (5, Funny)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200414)

"What's that? You're selling Iguana on a stick? Give me a second to get another Nuka-Cola out of the fridge first."

;)

Alternative allusion:
"You eat one Iguana on a Stick.
+25 hit points.
Temporary +1 to Science skill"

Re:Iguana on a Stick Eh? (1)

Linsaran (728833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200538)

I prefer the 'choice cuts', or rather, I used to prefer the choice cuts before I found out what it was made out of. Now I eat a diet exclusively of soylent green.

Re:Iguana on a Stick Eh? (1)

Zumbs (1241138) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200862)

I only like the ones from Iguana Bob in the Hub. I don't know how he does it, but I swear I have never tasted anything that great.

Re:Iguana on a Stick Eh? (1)

Phopojijo (1603961) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204752)

Silly... there's no Iguanas in New York State... ... but you know I *love* my Soylent Green.

Unknown to Science... (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200470)

Usually means unknown to western science.

I'm sure some ancient biologist documented them but it was never translated to English, if written at all. Its hard enough for the casual observer to tell a lizard's gender that nobody even noticed.

Rural people, even western people, see things every day in their environment that they assume is well known, and never bother to document. When noticed "scientists" it somehow becomes a discovery.

Someone "Discovered" America. Those already living in America at the time "Discovered" large sailboats at about the same time. Perspective.

Re:Unknown to Science... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34201096)

No shit, Sherlock.

Re:Unknown to Science... (5, Insightful)

Bowling Moses (591924) | more than 3 years ago | (#34201536)

"Rural people, even western people, see things every day in their environment that they assume is well known, and never bother to document. When noticed "scientists" it somehow becomes a discovery."

There's a reason for that. If you or I or a local group of people know something, great. But it's local, and limited, and easy to wipe out. Once that knowledge escapes that small group, either by the actions of that group or by an external factor it becomes something greater: part of the shared knowledge of humanity from which someone with no connection to the initial source of information can nonetheless make use of. For instance I'm working on a paper with a Chinese collaborator about the traditional use of certain plants by local farmers to combat pest insects. We're describing what those local farmers are doing (and probably have been doing for centuries) and providing an additional biochemical perspective; this knowledge will for the first time be available globally. It could lead to new insecticides, or perhaps the wider adoption of these plants themselves as organic insecticidal agents, and either or both could be done far outside the isolated community in which the use of these plants was found. This work is just a tiny part of a much larger, decades-long, global research effort by thousands of scientists (note lack of scare quotes) to try and take traditional medicine and other practices (including westerners: aspirin [wikipedia.org], for example), discover what works, how it works, and make that knowledge generally available. How's that for some perspective?

Re:Unknown to Science... (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204148)

Usually means unknown to western science.

Um, no, it means "unknown to science". The sous-chef at Crazy Duong's Iguana Eatery is not a scientist, nor is his second cousin with the acupuncture needles and the powdered tiger penis.

Someone "Discovered" America. Those already living in America at the time "Discovered" large sailboats at about the same time. Perspective.

Someone "Discovered" an ant colony. Those already living in the ant colony "Discovered" some huge monster peering at them with a magnifying glass. Perspective.

Re:Unknown to Science... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34204890)

Not terribly long ago (2008 or 2009), a wildlife survey found something like 5 species of insects and two species of salamander previously unknown in the Appalachian Mountains. Double checking of the records and backroom inventories at places like the Smithsonian showed that nobody documented their existence before. So yes, there is a chance that some critters in our own backyard are something that modern science is still unaware of.

Side effects... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34200492)

...may include asexual reproduction.

sexual reproduction (5, Insightful)

alphastrike (1938886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200504)

That's interesting, sexual reproduction is meant to increase genetic variation within a population and adapting to evolutionary changes. An animal that forgoes this process and clones itself to reproduce must of had genetic defects already weeded out from the gene pool at large. It might have perfectly adapted to survive in its surroundings, without experiencing harsh evolutionary demands. If this lizard has been around for millions of years, it might be interesting to analyze genetic variance of individual lizards, and see how many original lines exist within the population. After all if they are clones, it's possible that the entire species is consisted of clones descended from ONE individual! That's pretty rad stuff for the animal kingdom.

Re:sexual reproduction (1)

L3370 (1421413) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200638)

I was thinking the exact same thing as I read the article. Genetic diversity should increase a species ability to stick around which makes you think how unusual something like this is still around. There are other lizards that can perform "virgin birth" but even those species still reproduce sexually when permissible.

If cloning is the only way they reproduce, they either must be genetically perfect for their environment or their environment has resisted drastic change.

cloning means you do not need to be perfect at all (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34201000)

Cloning does not mean you must be perfect. The clone is genetically just as good as the parent, so you only must be able to live.

The big advantage of sexual reproduction is that you get much more combinations, i.e. you can combine your faults much better and carry around a much bigger amount of faults.

So clones are usually better, but only as long as the rules do not change. Once a fault gets a bonus because it gives you some immunity to some illness, the clones have a hard time, because they do not collect new faults that easily...

Re:sexual reproduction (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34201530)

Eh, there's not really anything such as genetically perfect, even for a specific environment. In evolution, the main value is "good enough". Sometimes maybe "prolific" like ants. Or sometimes "dominate", but that has it's own pitfalls like the super-shark that ate themselves out of an ecosystem.

But you do have a point. Sexual reproduction is typically faster to adapt then asexual reproduction.
I was going to say something along the lines of how a strain of bacteria is probably able to change a larger percentage of it's code-base, then elephants in any given time frame simply due to their reproduction frequencies. ...but this is software, small changes can be drastic and massive overhauls can be transparent.

Re:sexual reproduction (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34202760)

There are 24 billion chickens and 1.53 billion cows in the world. BEING TASTY TO HUMANS IS A SURVIVAL TRAIT!

Re:sexual reproduction (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204184)

On the other hand, there are probably less than a million Bison left in the world, and they taste MUCH better than cows or chicken. Being tasty might be a survival trait today in some parts of the world, for some species, but it's also been rather detrimental at times.

Re:sexual reproduction (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204580)

Highly detrimental. I should say "Tasty and manageable" in the future.

"We breed chicken/pig/cow to be a tasty treat. We're bred to eat that tasty meat."

With allergies and such we might find that we've restricted ourselves to very limited food choices. Even now I know people who have limitations on what food they can eat to such an extreme that I'm amazed they can live.

Re:sexual reproduction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34201092)

That should be 'must have' not 'must of'.

Re:sexual reproduction (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 3 years ago | (#34201202)

No. Genetic variation still exists. Yeast produce asexually, but many strains exist, and new strains are developed all the time. Your statement is predicated on perfect genetic replication every time, which doesn't always happen. If that were the case, bacteria and virii would be eternally unchanging. Evolutionary changes are slower however, since they rely on mutations within a single organism, rather than mixing different genetic lines.

Re:sexual reproduction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34201794)

That's interesting, sexual reproduction is meant to increase genetic variation within a population and adapting to evolutionary changes. An animal that forgoes this process and clones itself to reproduce must of had genetic defects already weeded out from the gene pool at large. It might have perfectly adapted to survive in its surroundings, without experiencing harsh evolutionary demands.

If this lizard has been around for millions of years, it might be interesting to analyze genetic variance of individual lizards, and see how many original lines exist within the population. After all if they are clones, it's possible that the entire species is consisted of clones descended from ONE individual!

TFA addresses that: "At least in terms of lizards, most that are unisexual species—when compared to the lineages of other lizards—have not been around very long". It then discusses how genes cloning themselves can be effective in the short term, but in the long term sex is better.

Re:sexual reproduction (1)

HeedlessYouth (685980) | more than 3 years ago | (#34201898)

There are actually a number of groups of asexual lizards like these. In the U.S. and Mexico, we have the genus Aspidoscelis (originally Cnemidophorus), known as whiptail lizards. There are about a dozen asexual species, each representing the hybridization of of a parrticular combination of sexual species. Some of the asexual species are even triploid, having chromosomes from three different species. (Most animals are diploid, with one set of chromosomes from each parent.) In Europe, they have the lacertid lizards. Interestingly, the U.S., European, and now these Vietnamese species all look quite similar - don't know what that means.

In answer to some of the ideas you bring up, for the U.S. species most the asexual lines are probably thousands rather than millions of years old. Some species appear to consist of just one lineage (that is, all living individuals arose from a single original hybridization), while others appear to have had multiple hybridization events producing a variety of clones. It appears likely that, on average, members of asexual species are not quite as fit as members of sexual species - but asexual species have an advantage in reproductive rates. When everyone's a female, that means everyone lays eggs. In a sexual species, half the population just knocks up the other half but doesn't actually make any young. So, all else equal, all female populations reproduce twice as fast as sexual ones.

Re:sexual reproduction (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204672)

> Interestingly, the U.S., European, and now these Vietnamese species all look quite similar - don't know what that means.

First guess- their probably all the same genus, and it's likely a genus that is particularly suited to such asexually reproducing hybrids ? That in itself could be a survival trait on the level of the genus as a whole. If one or both of the parent species died out the clones may still survive as it has the best genetic benefits of both.

Re:sexual reproduction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34202610)

These lizards are adapted to walk over to your table at the restaurant and recommend the loin or ask if you'd rather have the blade or leg.

Re:sexual reproduction -- not that unique (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203450)

Not the only lizard only know as a female--the New Mexico Whiptail is also only known as a female, reproducing only through parthenogenesis....

AHAHAHA - WHAT? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34200578)

A female lizard that reproduces asexually? Sounds more like a lez-zard than a liz-zard amirite? Hi-five!
...
...
(c'mon yer leavin' me hangin'...)

.

Re:AHAHAHA - WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34201072)

Lizzard Vicious

Lez-zards don't hang anything, only tribulation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34202160)

Hanging? You've obviously not seen the mating ritual of 2 Whiptail lizards in Baja California, no strapon required, the one just jumps on the others back to "tribulation" until the one underneath is stimulated to ovulate. No other lizard does as the Whiptail lizards. A Mediterranean gecko miraculously conceives with no interaction. More interesting than Whiptails and Geckos, or even the ones in Thailand, are the Knite lizards along the Islands outside of souther California; they bear live young with actual umbilical cords to placentae unlike the egg-shell incubators of other reptiles.

Besides, parthogenesis in people is well known; it stems from the fact that all living creatures are actually in a caste system: the base of the human brain is known as the Archon Center and identical to all reptiles despite reptiles having not the additional brain matter above the Archon Center that makes them man. This is the basis for all complex nervous systems to establish biological footprint of impulse and urge, then the addition is a reciprocal turing effect (man) that allows the former animal to "un-descend" or "ascend" back into a higher character where it's thought process and emotion determine it's physiology and capacity rather than the evolutionary primitives. The same traits are seen that Homo Erectus/Africanus on Africa have a more-developed Archon Center suggesting they are animals whereas Homo Europa/Neanderthal have a less-developed Archon Center and greater-brain matter suggesting they are a continuum of a non-native organization/organism (perhaps Mars, judging by their physiology to seasons of the Mars orbit and rotational day hours difference).e

Re:Lez-zards don't hang anything, only tribulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203634)

Didn't they tell you it was dangerous to go off your meds?

Blends in (1)

Neutral_Observer (1409941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200672)

with the environment. If I saw a chicken cross the road, I would just say, "Huh, a chicken!". But it could be a new species of chicken never before seen by "science" and i would think nothing of it. Just like seeing another lizard in the tropics. "Eew! a lizard!"

apropos Jurassic Park quote (4, Funny)

Spectre (1685) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200726)

Dr. Wu: "You're implying that a group composed entirely of female animals will breed?"

Ian: "No. I'm simply saying that life, uh, finds a way."

Wow, Ian was right again ...

Predicted by The Onion (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34200790)

http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-delicious-species-discovered,1331/

Potential Problem (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34201232)

I think I speak for most Slashdotters when I say that hopefully scientists never find out what genes or other mechanisms allow these lizards to reproduce asexually and transplant them to humans. Because if they do, we're never gonna get laid.

Re:Potential Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34201496)

I think I speak for most Slashdotters when I say that hopefully scientists never find out what genes or other mechanisms allow these lizards to reproduce asexually and transplant them to humans. Because if they do, we're never gonna get laid.

Most Slashdotters get laid?

I'll take the lizard. (1)

Octopuscabbage (1932234) | more than 3 years ago | (#34201306)

How they found out about this: "Hello waitress i would like lizard with fries, but I'm a nerd so i think i will study it before i eat it"

Re:I'll take the lizard. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34201396)

Lame.

It reminds me of Cronenberg's "eXistenZ" (1)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34201424)

It featured a mysterious Chinese restaurant in the middle of the Canadian wilderness that served animals that were unknown to science.

It's best watched back-to-back with "Naked Lunch".

So easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34201746)

Most diners were pleasantly surprised after their meals, when they found out they were saving 15% on their car insurance.

How about McDonald burgers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203872)

Do they reproduce asexually too?

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