Scientists discover new species in remote Australian forest

30 Oct 2013


After the discovery of over 400 new species in the Amazon rain forsts last week (See: Purring monkey among hundreds of new animals found in Amazon rainforest), scientists have found a "Lost World" of unknown creatures in an Australian rainforest in a remote part of Queensland.

The rainforest in remote Cape York rainforest straddles a mountain range of giant boulders.

The first expedition to explore the isolated Cape Melville range, on the peninsula's eastern coast, this year, was led by James Cook University biologist Conrad Hoskin.

He and a team from National Geographic was dropped on top of the massive granite boulders and in only four days Dr Hoskin discovered three creatures unknown to science.

These included a long, camouflaged gecko with a tail shaped like a leaf, a golden skink [a lizard variety] and a tiny rock-loving frog.

He told The Australian newspaper that it was like walking into a whole new world, after the international journal Zootaxa published his discovery this month.

He added it was a truly wild place, very hard to get to, on an amazing misty plateau of rainforest on top of large black boulder fields.

He added, the unique ecosystem kept rare rainforest species alive for millions of years.

He said it was protected by the boulder fields, which kept fire out and moisture in, which was quite conducive to hanging on to some really interesting rainforest creatures through time.

Patrick Couper, curator of reptiles and frogs at Queensland Museum said the Cape Melville Leaf-Tailed Gecko was the strangest new species to come across his desk in 26 years working as a professional herpetologist.

He added he doubted whether another new reptile of the size and distinctiveness would be found in a hurry, if ever again, in Australia

The Cape Melville Shade Skink another lanky lizard, though unlike its gecko neighbor, could be found hunting during the day, hopping across mossy boulders in search of insects. It had a golden hue and was isolated to the plateau rainforest.

According to the university's news release, it had been dubbed Saproscincus saltus, saltus meant leaping.

The Blotched Boulder Frog species, found only in the boulder field at Cape Melville, had been named, Cophixalus petrophilus, means rock-loving.

"During the dry season the frog lives deep down in the labyrinth of the boulder field where conditions are cool and moist. In the summer wet season the frog emerges on the surface rocks to feed and breed in the rain," the news release said. It added that the frog only came out to the surface when it was raining. (Read more: Lost world discovered on Australia's Cape York Peninsula)

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