Did you know Skinks are the largest and most diverse family of lizards and range in size from as small as 22 millimetres right up to the common Blue-tongue up to around 320 millimetres?
Queensland Museum scientists have described three new species of skinks found in a small pocket of land in North Queensland. The three new species are Lerista anyara, Lerista alia and Lerista parameles.
Found in the remote Olkola National Park in north Queensland, the skink (Lerista) was discovered by consultants working with Traditional Owners on the Kimba Plateau, in Cape York, following Bush Blitz, a species discovery program. The Olkola people who helped find the skink, contacted Queensland Museum herpetologist Dr Andrew Amey who confirmed it was a new species.
Dr Amey worked with senior curator reptiles, Patrick Couper and Research Fellow and Molecular Identities Lab Manager, Dr Jessica Worthington-Wilmer, to describe the new species, Lerista anyara, which is known to only inhabit the Kimba Plateau.
“It was quite surprising to find the presence of skinks on Kimba Plateau as the nearest relative is 500 kilometres south, so it’s very interesting they exist on this small pocket of land,” Dr Amey said.
Dr Amey said he enjoyed working with skinks because of their diversity. “Because of the diversity between different species, they can be difficult to define, most have smooth, shiny overlapping body scales and have four legs, with five fingers and toes, but some have small reduced limbs with few digits or even no limbs at all,” he said.
Queensland Museum CEO Dr Jim Thompson said recording new species and understanding their distribution is critical to ensuring their long term conservation. “It’s a credit to our Queensland Museum scientists that they continue to describe new species and enrich our knowledge of the state’s biodiversity,” he said. “As a scientist you never stop learning and researching and taxonomy is just one of the many roles the scientists undertake here at the museum, for the benefit of all Queenslanders.”
Explore Wild State on level 4 of the Museum to view more Queensland animal species.