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Will a Newly Discovered Lizard Help Scientists Protect Rain Forests?


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Grades 2-up

News Content

The discovery of a new lizard -- a cousin of the Komodo -- has got scientists thinking.

Anticipation Guide

Have students identify on a world map the location of the Philippines. Find out what students know about the Philippines and share a few facts they might not know.

  • The Philippines (officially known as the Republic of the Philippines) is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean.
  • It comprises a chain of more than 7,000 islands grouped into three main geographical divisions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
  • The Philippines is the worlds 12th most populous nation (92 million people).
  • The countrys capital city is Manila.
  • Its tropical climate means the Philippines is one of the worlds richest areas of biodiversity.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: trickle, distinguish, realize, conservation, uniquely, and camouflage. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • When Paul turned on the faucet, he could get nothing more than a _____ of water. (trickle)
  • That made Paul _____ that the well might be running dry. (realize)
  • You can _____ an African elephant from an Asian elephant by the shape of its lip and the size of its ears. (distinguish)
  • The polar bears white fur helps to _____ it against the snow. (camouflage)
  • Police officer Hamiltons experience and bravery make him _____ qualified to serve as chief. (uniquely)
  • The water level in the reservoir was dangerously low, so the city announced some special _____ measures. (conservation)
  • Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Will a Newly Discovered Lizard Help Scientists Protect Rain Forests?.

    Reading the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • Scientists describe the Northern Sierra Madre monitor lizard [see picture] as a skittish" reptile. It does everything possible to keep itself hidden when people and other animals are nearby. It is naturally reclusive, scientists say. It melts into the vegetation if humans approach," says herpetologist Rafe Brown of the Biodiversity Institute at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, who was part of the team that discovered the new lizard.
  • The newly discovered lizard was found in northern parts of the Philippines Luzon Island, which is home to the Agta (also called the Aeta [pronounced eye-tah]) tribe, an indigenous people of the mountains. To the Agta, the lizard is a delicacy that is high in protein. When found and cooked, it is the centerpiece of a special meal. Its meat is said to be tastier than the common ground-dwelling monitor lizards meat, perhaps because the Northern Sierra Madre monitor lives on fruit, not scavenged animals.
  • The adult Northern Sierra Madre monitor lizard is about 6- feet long. Its main body is about half of that length, and its tail makes up the other half. Its skin is covered by golden yellow spots and flecks. It is one of three known monitor lizards in the world that live on a diet of fruit. The new species lives about 100 miles away from its nearest relative.
  • The Northern Sierra Madre monitor is not as large as some other monitor species, especially the Komodo dragon, which can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh nearly 200 pounds.
  • Reptile expert Michael B. Harvey has examined many lizard species from around Southeast Asia. The diversity of these lizards had been greatly underestimated," he says. Harvey, of Broward College in Davie, Florida, was not a member of the team that discovered the Northern Sierra Madre monitor.
  • The discovery of the new lizard, as well as the discovery in recent years of other unique creatures, makes a case for the importance of preserving habitats rather than destroying them. In Africa, the kipunji monkey was discovered in 2003. The saola, an antelope-like creature, was found in the forests of Vietnam in 1992. Other more recent discoveries in the Philippines include a giant meat-eating plant and a giant rat.
  • Use the News

    Print out this weeks Use the News printable activity page for students. Or use the questions on that page to check student comprehension.

    Use the News: Answer Key
    Reading for Detail. Students should have circled the following true statements: 2, 3, 4, 9, and 10.
    Language Practice: Building Vocabulary. 1.b, 2.d, 3.c, 4.a, 5.a.
    Reading Comprehension: Whats the Main Idea? b. A new lizard is teaching people about the importance of protecting rain forests.

    Think About the News

    Have students reread the last paragraph of the news story.

    The rain forests are a conservation hot spot" that need to be protected, scientists say. I hope we can make the new lizard a poster child for conservation of the land," said one scientist. Conserving the rain forest will trickle down to its other inhabitants."
    Ask students to explain what they think the scientist meant by poster child when he said, I hope we can make the new lizard a poster child for conservation of the land." Some students might share that having a face to put to a problem/issue can sometimes help bring attention to it. Just as some companies use celebrities or cute babies or active kids to promote their products or causes, this scientist seems to think that the interesting new" lizard might be used to draw attention to disappearing rain forests.


    Use the Use the News printable activity page as an assessment (answers above).

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.3 Life Science
    NS.K-4.4 Earth and Space Science
    NS.K-4.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.3 Life Science
    NS.5-8.4 Earth and Space Science
    NS.5-8.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.3 Life Science
    NS.9-12.4 Earth and Space Science
    NS.9-12.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen

    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
    NSS-G.K-12.5 Environment and Society

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
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