Wednesday 15 October 2014

Two new species of Skink from the Cape York Peninsula in northeast Australia.

Tropical Rainforests in Australia are found in a 430 km lowland strip between Townsville and Cooktown in Queensland, known as the ‘Wet Tropics’, and in smaller patches on the mountainous Cape York Peninsula. While the more accessible Wet Tropics have been extensively studied and surveyed for biodiversity, the patchy forests of the Cape York Peninsula are less well known, with most of the research that has occurred having concentrated on larger forest patches.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 29 September 2014, Conrad Hoskin of the Centre for Tropical Biodiversity & Climate Change at James Cook University and Patrick Couper of the Natural Environments Program at the Queensland Museum, describe two new species of Skink (Scincidae) from the Cape York Peninsula. Both new species are placed in the genus Glaphyromorphus, which is found in Australia and New Guinea.

The first new species described is named Glaphyromorphus othelarrni, which means ‘he-listens’ a name given to Bob Flinders who was born around Cape Melville and who passed knowledge of, and responsibility for the country onto the current generation of Traditional Owners; the name was chosen by the bubu gudjin, who are the Traditional Owners of the area where the species lives.

Glaphyromorphus othelarrni in life. Conrad Hoskin in Hoskin & Couper (2014).

Glaphyromorphus othelarrni is a smooth brown Skink with wavy lines of dark spots. Adults reach 215.4-236.9 mm in length. The species was found living at three sites around the Melville Range at Cape Melvile, on the western uplands of the mountains, around the highest peak and on the lowlands to the south of the range. It was round living in thick leaf litter around the base of or in between boulders within rocky areas within rainforests.

Habitat of Glaphyromorphus othelarrni in the Melville Range: (A) shows rainforest and boulder-field in the uplands; (B) showsboulder-strewn rainforest. Conrad Hoskin in Hoskin & Couper (2014).

The second new species described is named Glaphyromorphus nyanchupinta, meaning ‘covered in dead leaves or mulch’, a name chosen by the Elders of the Kaantju clan, traditional owners of the area where the species was discovered.

Glaphyromorphus nyanchupinta in life. Stephen Williams in Hoskin & Couper (2014).

Glaphyromorphus nyanchupinta is an elongate, tube-shaped Skink, brown in colour with darker brown or grey wavy bars. It was found living under logs in upland rainforest around the headwaters of Peach Creek in the McIlwraith Range on the Cape York Peninsula.

Habitat of Glaphyromorphus nyanchupintain the McIlwraith Range: (A) shows the rainforest uplands; (B) shows rainforest inthe vicinity of the headwaters of Peach Creek. (A) Adam Creed/QPWS in Hoskin & Couper (2014); (B) Patrick Couper in Hoskin & Couper (2014).

See also…

Skinks of the genus Carliaare found in northeast Australia, New Guinea and the Wallacea biogeographical province between Australia and...

Skinks are smallish lizards with elongate bodies and reduced legs and necks. They are an ancient and successful group, found throughout the tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions of the world...

Skinks are smallish lizards with elongate bodies and reduced legs and necks. They are an ancient...

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