Which Species Was Discovered Courtesy Of A Hollywood Film?
Answer: The Fiji Crested Iguana
In 1980 herpetologist Dr. John Gibbons was invited to an early screening of the movie Blue Lagoon. The film included numerous pan shots of the beautiful Fijian islands it was filmed on, as well as plenty of lingering shots of local flora and fauna to give viewers a sense of the wildness of the island the film’s protagonists were stranded on. During one of those lingering shots, Dr. Gibbons noticed something interesting: an iguana lizard with distinct markings he was unfamiliar with.
Gibbons was very familiar with iguanas in the region as he had recently been studying the Fiji Banded Iguana, and his curiosity was piqued. After a long international flight to Fiji and a short hop to the remote island where the scene were filmed later, Gibbons was rewarded with the sight of Brachylophus vitiensis, a previously undiscovered sub-species of iguana that would soon be known as the Fiji Crested Iguana.
Image courtesy of Michael Howard.