New creatures discovered in Australian Coastal Park
A gecko, a skink, and a frog make their debut
By Lindsey Addawoo, Staff Writer
Just when we thought we had Australia’s creatures figured out, as ‘lost world’ of reptiles and frogs have been uncovered. Biologist Conrad Hoskin of James Cook University in Queensland, Australia led the first expedition into Cape Melville Park along the east coast this year, and, to Hoskin’s surprise, he discovered something previously unknown to the scientific community: a tail-leafed gecko (ranging 20 cm long), a golden skink (a lizard with short limbs), and a small frog.
According to Hoskin, who was accompanied by the National Geographic, the makeup of the peninsula’s unique ecosystem has allowed these creatures to survive virtually unnoticed. Accessible only by helicopter, the range is made up primarily of large boulders which work to keep fire out and moisture in—a prime combination for rainforest creatures to survive.
“This is a truly wild place, so hard to get to, on an amazing misty plateau of rainforest on top of large black boulder fields,” Hoskin said. “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.”
According to Patrick Couper, Curator of Reptiles and Frogs at the Queensland Museum, the newly-named Cape Melville Leaf-tailed Gecko is an exciting discovery.
“That this gecko was hidden away in a small patch of rainforest on top of Cape Melville is truly remarkable. What makes it even more remarkable is that two other totally new vertebrates were found at the same time,” he said in an interview with The Telegraph.
The introduction of news species may be a possible site for tourism or increased research expeditions in Queensland – the city currently faces small deficit due to decreased coal prices. Ironically enough, however, the very ecosystem that has the potential to generate revenue in the city may be at risk with upcoming 2015-2016 budget cuts.
However, for Dr. Hoskin, this first expedition is only the beginning with another, longer, expedition to the Cape Melville range planned soon.
“There’ll be more new species to find, for sure.”
Lindsey Addawoo is a fourth year student in Ryerson University’s RTA School of Media. In the past, Lindsey has interned at Global News and written for various student publications, such as The Ryerson Free Press and McClung’s Magazine.