Lizard feared to be extinct is rediscovered in Australia 42 years after last sighting
A lizard that was feared to be extinct has been rediscovered after 42 years.
The Lyon’s grassland striped skink was last seen in 1981 – until now.
Researchers from Queensland Museum and experts from James Cook University set out to find the rare skink in April.
The Lyon’s grassland striped skink was last seen in 1981 – until now
Researchers from Queensland Museum and experts from James Cook University set out to find the rare skink in April
Lyon’s Grassland Striped Skinks
Lyon’s Grassland Striped Skinks had not been observed since 1981 and is known only from a single locality that is heavily grazed by cattle.
This skink lives in the cracks of blacksoil country. The cracks provide shelter from the heat of the day and predators.
It is probably active by day foraging for insects at the surface, but is still difficult to observe under the long grass.
They set up traps on a 5sq/km area of farmland near Mount Surprise, some 300km south of Cairns, to see if they could find any of the elusive creatures – as well as two other rare lizards.
‘These lizards are all hard to find and seldom seen. Two are part of a large group of skinks in the genus Lerista, which are only found in Australia and have adapted to sandy soils by reducing their limbs to essentially swim through the soil,’ said Dr Andrew Amey from Queensland Museum Network.
‘It shows that parts of Australia such as grasslands and open woodland that are grazed by cattle can still host important biodiversity.
‘It was an exciting moment to find all three skinks, but to find the Lyon’s Grassland Striped Skink was an amazing discovery.’
The small distribution of the skinks makes them vulnerable to damaging events such as bushfires, drought, invasive weeds and disease.
The Lyon’s Grassland Striped Skink was recently listed as Critically Endangered by the Queensland and Australian Governments.
Dr Amey said animals like these skinks have an important role to play in our ecosystems.
‘We need to know if these skinks have healthy populations or if they are declining. We can’t take effective action to protect them if we don’t know where they occur and what threats are impacting them,’ said Dr Amey.
‘The only way to get this information is go and look for them.’
The Lyon’s Grassland Striped Skink was recently listed as Critically Endangered by the Queensland and Australian Governments
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