New lizard species escapes extinction

Photo: Brad Maryan courtesy of Australian National University

Sometimes you discover something in the last place you’d expect. Like a new species near a housing development.

Researchers from Australian National University happened upon the coastal plains skink, Ctenotus ora, which lives in the sand dunes about 70 km south of Perth. Its dunes are slated for residential development. But the skink has adapted to only to live in the dunes, and would have no where else to go.

Geoffrey Kay, an ecologist from ANU’s Fenner School of Environment & Society, said in a release that, “To find something as yet undetected, so close to one of the country’s largest cities, demonstrates how much we’ve still got to discover.”

That’s probably a lot; southwestern Australia is one of the 25 top hot spots in the world for biodiversity. Kay says encroaching housing developments need to be careful not to destroy too much natural habitat.

The tiny skink is about 6 cm long, is darker in color than most other skinks, and has white lines down its sides and back.

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