International research team discovers 10,000th reptile species

Date: 2014/08/01


Team from Cologne (Germany), Hanoi (Vietnam) and Vientiane (Laos) announces that the Reptile Database surpasses 10,000 reptile species.


Cologne 1 August 2014


More than 10,000 reptile species have been recorded into the Reptile Database, a web-based catalogue of all living reptile species and classification (see, making the reptile species among the most diverse vertebrate group in the world, alongside bird and fish species. Reptiles include snakes, lizards, turtles, crocodiles, tuataras and amphisbaenians. There are  approximately 5,000 species of mammals and approximately 7,000 species of amphibians.


"Officially, we have logged 10,038 reptile species into the database, which is up from 9,952 that was reported in April", said Peter Uetz, Ph.D., Associate Professor of systems biology and bioinformatics in the Center for the Study of Biological Complexity, part of Life Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University. Uetz is the founder, editor and curator of the Reptile Database and operates it together with Jiří Hošek, a programmer in the Czech Republic.


The 10,000th species recorded into the database is a lizard most recently discovered by researchers from Cologne Zoo together with colleagues from Hanoi (Vietnam) and Vientiane (Laos). Cyrtodactylus vilaphongi is the name of the pretty bent toed gecko, which was found in the jungle of Laos in Southeast Asia. The gecko could not be allocated to any of the known species due to its differing morphology and molecular biology. The species description most recently was published in the journal Zootaxa (Schneider, N., Nguyen, T. Q., Le, M. D., Nophaseud, L., Bonkowski, M. & T. Ziegler [2014]: A new species of Cyrtodactylus [Squamata: Gekkonidae] from the karst forest of northern Laos. - Zootaxa 3835[1]: 080-096).


Cologne Zoo already engages since 1999 in research and conservation of the biodiversity in Vietnam and since recently also in Laos. <>, says Associate Professor Dr. Thomas Ziegler, Curator of herpetology and Coordinator of the Cologne Zoo's biodiversity and conservation projects in Vietnam and Laos. The discovery was made by Ziegler's master student Nicole Schneider together with the cooperation partners Dr. Truong Quang Nguyen from the Institute of Ecology and Biological Ressources in Hanoi, and Liphone Nophaseud from the National University in Laos.

Cyrtodactylus vilaphongi, which has been discovered in the karst forests of Luang Prabang in northern Laos, is the 16th new bent toed gecko species and the 24th new gecko species in general which has been discovered by Ziegler's research team at the Cologne Zoo. By doing so, Cologne Zoos provides a fundamental contribution towards biodiversity research in Southeast-Asia which is important basis for subsequent conservation projects.


"Modern, scientifically led zoos are not only place for recovery and education, but also do engage with research and conservation; and not only in the zoo, but also in situ where animals are naturally occurring", says Theo Pagel, director of the Cologne Zoo. "In particular in times of global species decline and habitat destruction it is not only crucial to create public awareness in the zoos, but also to directly conduct research and conservation in the last remaining rain forests", says Pagel.

For more information, contact Dr. Thomas Ziegler: 

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  • Notes to Editors

    The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is a global organisation that harmonises the principles, policies, practices and strategy of over 1,300 leading zoos and aquariums.  WAZA is the unifying representative of the global zoo and aquarium community and works in partnership with IUCN, national governments and non-governmental organisations to ensure high standards of animal welfare and to achieve conservation in zoos and aquariums (ex situ) and in nature (in situ).