Time Magazine reported on Monday that scientists have discovered three new vertebrate species in Australia. The creatures were discovered in what has been called a “lost world” in the mountains of northern Queensland, Australia.
The three new species consist of a “primitive-looking” gecko, a boulder-dwelling frog, and a skink. The scientists who made the exciting discoveries are from James Cook University and were dropped in by helicopter to the remote area back in March. Once there, the scientists began to explore the mountain range on Cape Melville, delving deep into a pristine rainforest covered with huge black granite boulders.
Within days of arriving in the “lost world,” the scientists discovered new species that are believed to have been isolated for millions of years. Dr. Conrad Hoskin, who led the expedition, expressed his surprise and excitement about the new additions to the animal kingdom.
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 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.”
There have been other expeditions into the boulder fields surrounding the rainforest, but the forest has remained virtually untouched by humans as a “monstrous wall” of boulders made entering the rainforest on foot impossible.
Of the three new species discovered, the Cape Melville leaf-tailed gecko is the most unique, with skin that keeps it camouflaged, huge eyes, and a long body. All characteristics that are thought be adaptations from living in the dimly lit boulder fields. The Cape Melville shade skink, a type of lizard, was also discovered, in addition to a blotched-boulder frog. The frog lives almost exclusively deep in the boulder field, only venturing to the surface during the summer season where it can breed and feed, laying eggs in boulder crevices.