A lizard thought to be extinct has been rediscovered in Australia after 42 years. The Lyon’s Grassland Striped Skink was last seen in 1981, but now it’s back.
In April, scientists from the Queensland Museum and experts from James Cook University went on a mission to locate this rare skink.
Traps placed close to Mount Surprise
The researchers placed traps on a five-square-kilometer piece of farmland close to Mount Surprise about three hundred kilometers south of Cairns. They wanted to check if they could locate any of these hard-to-spot creatures, including two other uncommon lizards.
Dr. Andrew Amey from Queensland Museum Network explained, “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.”
This discovery highlights that certain areas in Australia, such as grasslands and open woodlands where cattle graze, can still support a diverse range of important wildlife.
Exciting discovery of Grassland Striped Skink
Discovering all three skinks was thrilling, but uncovering the Lyon’s Grassland Striped Skink was truly an incredible find. Because these skinks are found in only a small area, they are at risk from harmful events such as wildfires, lack of rain, invasive weeds, and diseases for instance.
The Lyon’s Grassland Striped Skink has been categorized as “Critically Endangered” by both the Queensland and Australian governments. This means they are in great danger of disappearing forever.
According to Dr. Amey, creatures like these skinks play a crucial role in our ecosystems. He emphasized that “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.”
More details about skinks rediscovered in Australia
Lyon’s Grassland Striped Skink makes its home in the crevices of black soil terrain. These cracks offer safety from the harsh daytime heat and predators. While it likely scurries around in the daylight to look for insects near the surface, it remains tricky to spot due to the tall grass.
The Limbless Fine-lined Slider is found in the Undara Volcanic National Park, but its range is very small, and sightings are quite rare. This critter has no limbs, making it look much like a little snake. You’ll only come across them in loose soil under rocks and logs.
Known to exist in just one field in Mount Surprise, the Mount Surprise Slider is similar to the Limbless Fine-lined Slider. However, it has tiny, clawless stubs as back legs. Like its limbless counterpart, you’ll only find them in loose soil under rocks and logs.