a new skink and old friend

I’ll try and catch up a little with some images from the past few weeks. Firstly the new skinks from the Eyre Mountains. I spotted these lizards first back in 2004, whilst on a fauna survey. At the time they were considered to be within the Oligosoma inconspicuum species but looked suspiciously different. Some recent molecular investigations into the systematics of these animals has exposed a number of new taxa, reopening the interest in the beasties i saw in 2004. So in January I set out to collect a small number of specimens for close examination. It’s critical that we understand and accurately describe species such as these as they offer the only levers we have to justify better stewardship of the environment. It’s a cliche concept in many areas of the world, especially the tropics but holds true here in NZ.

Eyres Mts., Cascade Creek

To even get near this place required some serious off road driving that slowly looses it’s fun factor when being done for work and you know getting stuck means a very very long walk. In the picture below you can just see the truck parked at the base of the scree, I walked the rest as it was steep to say the least.

High up in the Eyre Mts.

After a few days dedicated searching eventually a population was located, but I’d ended up working my way back to the very location that i first found the animals. They were as stunning and gracile as i remembered.

Oligosoma 'eyres'

This might seem like another LBJ (‘little brown job’ in ornithological parlance) but it really is exciting to find new little functional components of the ecosystems that surround us. These skinks weren’t the only finds for the trip. We also observed some feral goats of some stature. These are essentially pest animals as they browse down delicate native vegetation in ecologically sensitive areas, but it makes them no less spectacular to observe. I also found a number of little geckos currently known only as ‘southern minis’ as they are also yet to be formally described. These charming little geckos live in the same rocks and stable scree areas surrounded by vegetation and shrubs as the Eyres skink. 

The southern mini gecko

Majestic but troublesome

Glorious mountains on a glorious day

~ by motolorax on February 25, 2010.

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