Gecko, lizard and frog among new species from Australian 'lost world'

Oct. 28, 2013 at 7:26 PM
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BRISBANE, Australia, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- A gecko with a tail that looks like a leaf is among new species found in an isolated "lost world" in northern Australia, zoologists say.

Scientists from James Cook University and National Geographic taken by helicopter to explore a pristine rainforest in a remote mountain range also discovered a golden-colored skink -- a type of lizard -- and a frog that likes living among boulders, The Guardian reported Monday.

The discoveries were made on Cape Melville, an area of granite outcrops and plateaus thought to have formed 250 million years ago.

"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," Conrad Hoskin of James Cook University said.

"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," he said.

The "primitive-looking" Cape Melville leaf-tailed gecko, about eight inches long, is believed to be a relic from a time when rainforest was more widespread in Australia, the scientists said.

It hides in the boulders by day and emerges at night to hunt on rocks and trees, its camouflage, huge eyes and long, thin body and limbs thought to be adaptations to life in the dimly lit boulder fields, they said.

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