According to the Telegraph on Tuesday, scientists have discovered a “Lost World” of unknown creatures in a rainforest perched on boulders in a remote part of Queensland, Australia in Cape Melville.
The discovered species, that includes a frog that makes love in the rain, a leaf-tail gecko and a golden skink, have been isolated in a remote mountain range on Cape York Peninsula for millions of years, according to James Cook University.
The scientists found a “host of other interesting species” that may also be new to science, but the three vertebrates, which are described as highly distinct, will be documented in this month’s issue of Zootaxa, a peer-reviewed journal for animal taxonomists.
The Cape Melville Leaf-tailed gecko is being considered the highlight of the new species. Leaf-tailed geckos are very primitive-looking lizards that are relics from a time when rainforests were more widespread in Australia. Scientists say the new gecko is unusual and very distinct.
“The second I saw the gecko I knew it was a new species. Everything about it was obviously distinct”, Dr Conrad Hoskin of James Cook University, who named the new species, which has been published in the journal Zootaxa.
“The top of Cape Melville is a lost world. Finding these new species up there is the discovery of a lifetime — I’m still amazed and buzzing from it,” Hoskin told AFP about the nine-mile rainforest range surrounded by granite boulders. “Finding three new, obviously distinct vertebrates would be surprising enough in somewhere poorly explored like New Guinea, let alone in Australia, a country we think we’ve explored pretty well.”
The Blocked Boulder Frog
The newly discovered frog lives in cool and moist conditions deep under the boulder-field during the dry season, before emerging during the wet summer season to feed and breed in the rain. But it needs no pond — it can lay its eggs in the moist cracks of rocks, where tadpoles develop into fully formed froglets before hatching.
The Cape Melville Leaf Tailed Gecko
The gecko is a night hunter and hides in the boulders during the day. At night, the highly camouflaged critter sits motionless, head down, awaiting passing insects and spiders on rocks and in trees. Its big eyes and long, slender body and limbs are likely “adaptations to life in the dimly lit boulder fields,” the release said.
The Cape Melville Shade Skink
A golden-coloured skink, it is awake during the day and leaps across the boulders hunting insects, while the blotched boulder-frog feeds and breeds in the rain during the summer wet season. The frog’s tadpoles develop inside its eggs once laid. When the eggs hatch, a fully formed froglet hops out.