We can only imagine how thrilling it must be for a scientist to discover a previously unknown species. But for a scientist to discover a previously unknown species being served at lunch buffet ... well, THAT we don't even want to try to imagine!
But that's what happened to herpetologist Lee Grismer. When Grismer heard from a colleague at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology about an undocumented species of all-female lizard in the Mekong River delta that reproduced by cloning, he hopped a plane with his son to see for himself.
But after arriving in Hanoi to check out the small lizards that had been found in diners in rural villages, Grismer learned he was a little too late, because at the restaurant where an owner had promised to set aside some of the creatures for study, he found:
"Unfortunately, the owner wound up getting drunk, and grilled them all up for his patrons ... so when we got there, there was nothing left."
But don't worry—the story has a happy ending.
Luckily, after asking around at other cafes in the area, Grismer was able to find more than 60 examples of previously undocumented species.
We're glad he wasn't disappointed, but what we really want to know is—what does Leiolepis ngovantrii taste like? Not like chicken.
"You wouldn't want to substitute it for a Big Mac or anything like that," he said.