A SCIENTIST from North Yorkshire has discovered a new species of chameleon - while studying a completely different animal.

Dr Andrew Marshall of York University was in Tanzania to survey monkeys in the Magombera Forest.

And he found the new chameleon when he discovered a snake actually eating one.

The specimen was collected, tested and then compared to two others found by scientists in the same area, And it has now been officially named Kinyongia Magomberae - the Magombera chameleon - in research just published in the African Journal of Herpetology.

"Discovering a new species is a rare event so to be involved in the identification and naming of this animal is very exciting," he said.

"Chameleon species tend to be focused in small areas and, unfortunately, the habitat this one depends on, the Magombera Forest, is under threat.

"Hopefully this discovery will support efforts to provide this area and others like it with greater protection."

Dr Marshall, who is also director of conservation science at the Flamingo Land theme park and zoo, is leading a research project investigating changes in the Magombera Forest.

The forest is an important resource for people in the area and home to wildlife, including endangered red colobus monkeys.

The project combines research into the biology of the forest with education for local people on how to manage it in a more sustainable way.

The ultimate aim is to develop protected status for the forest and find alternative ways of meeting the needs of local communities.

He is co-author of the new study with researchers from the Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali, the South African National Biodiversity Institute, Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Stellenbosch.