Two new lizard species


Two new lizard species found in Queensland rainforest

Cape Melville rainbow skink and Cape Melville bar-lipped skink bring the tally of species unknown to science that have been found in small, remote area to eight

A Cape Melville rainbow skink. Photograph: Conrad Hoskin

Two species of lizard previously unknown to science have been uncovered in a remote part of far north Queensland.

Dr Conrad Hoskin, a researcher at James Cook university, found the two species after landing by helicopter in a largely inaccessible area of rainforest on top of the Melville range, about 170km north of Cooktown.

The species have been named as the Cape Melville rainbow skink and the Cape Melville bar-lipped skink. The scientific names of the species – Carlia wundalthini and Glaphyromorphus othelarrni – were chosen by local Aboriginal leaders in a nod to previous traditional owners of the land.

Hoskin said the discoveries were “very exciting” and added to three other species he uncovered during a series of trips to Cape Melville last year: a leaf-tailed gecko, a boulder frog and a golden lizard.

“In each of those cases, as soon as I saw them I knew they were new species,” he told Guardian Australia.

The Cape Melville bar-lipped skink. Photograph: Conrad Hoskin

“I was walking around on my first day there and saw a lizard and thought ‘wow, that’s something different’. And then that night I saw something moving in some mulch by a boulder, I pulled it out and it was another new kind of lizard.”

The rainbow skink is only about 10cm long, with shimmering scales. It is very fast and active during the day, eating small insects. Meanwhile, the bar-lipped skink is slightly larger, about 20cm long, and lives a more subdued life, emerging mostly at dusk.

Hoskin’s discovery of five new species in total adds to a further three species found at Cape Melville in the past few decades. The entire global populations of these eight endemic species live within the rainforest plateau and lowland area of Cape Melville.

Source: TheGuardian read and see more


Scientists discover more than 200 new Mekong species

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Scientists have identified more than 200 new species in the Greater Mekong region of south-east Asia, a report by conservation group WWF says.

Many of the animals recently identified by the WWF, like this self-cloning lizard, are under threat

They say that throughout 2010 more than 100 plants, 28 reptiles, 25 fish and seven amphibians were discovered.

But the WWF warns that many are endangered – while others could disappear before they are identified.

The Greater Mekong area includes Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Laos and Yunnan province of China.

It is one of the world’s most bio-diverse areas, home to some of the planet’s most endangered wild species including the tiger, the Asian elephant and the Mekong dolphin.

The WWF says that more than 1,000 species have been discovered in the Greater Mekong over the past 10 years.

BBC environment reporter Mark Kinver says that new species are frequently found in the region because of increasing levels of human activity, which is proving to be a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, building roads opens up remote habitats to scientists who can then venture into previously unexplored areas and record the rich diversity of wildlife.

But this can also have a damaging ecological impact, especially if it results in a greater exploitation of the land which destroys these fragile ecosystems, our correspondent adds.

Female-only lizard

Among recent finds was a female-only lizard species, which reproduces by cloning, and was only discovered after a scientist spotted it on the menu of a Vietnamese restaurant.

Wolf snake (Lycodon aulicus)

Ms Bladen said that the female-only cloning lizard was also an exiting find.

“This lizard is not genetically diverse and is therefore very vulnerable. So these species are often found in shrinking habitats that are under pressure from rapid and unsustainable development and climate change,” she said.

“But while we have extraordinary richness in this region, it is a richness that is under threat and shrinking fast and needs urgent effort to protect it.”

The latest WWF report comes just days after the organisation announced the extinction of the Javan rhino in Vietnam because of poaching, and a 70% reduction in the number of wild tigers in just over 10 years.

China, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia are all planning hydropower dams along the Mekong river to meet the increasing demand for electricity.

Another new species – discovered in 2010 – is a snub-nosed monkey found in a remote and mountainous part of Burma’s Kachin state, WWF spokeswoman Sarah Bladen told the BBC.

“It is well known to locals, who would spot the black-and-white monkey in the rain with its head between its knees, shielding it from the rain running into its upturned nose,” she said.

Source: BBC News

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