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Two new species of skinks recognized

Praeteropus auxilliger has its listening to modified by the addition of a beforehand unknown additional bone. Credit: Paul Horner

To coincide with National Reptile Awareness Day at this time Thursday 21 October, a brand new paper printed within the Journal of Herpetology, led by South Australian Museum Honorary Researcher Dr. Mark Hutchinson in collaboration with Queensland Museum researchers, particulars the findings of two new species of snake-shaped burrowing skinks every confined to small areas of mid-eastern Queensland.

The work makes use of lots of the new tools that researchers can now use to make discoveries in biodiversity. The analysis group has mixed molecular comparisons, micro-CT scanning of skeletons and research of the exterior look of the 2 skinks, to get a broad image of how they fluctuate and to mannequin their evolutionary historical past.

When requested to elucidate what makes one in every of these skinks stand out from others Dr. Mark Hutchinson from the South Australian Museum mentioned:

“One of the species is particularly odd as it has an extra bone in its middle ear. We don’t know for sure what it does, but it is evidently connected with modified hearing in some way—probably associated with the fact that while these lizards still have middle ears and a little sound conducting bone, they have lost their eardrum and with that their ability to hear high frequency sounds. This little extra bonelet may improve low frequency sound transmission.”

When requested why you will need to analyze the looks of the skinks, Dr. Hutchinson went on to elucidate:

“Leglessness and a snake-like body have evolved multiple times in lizards, most spectacularly in snakes themselves, which really are a group of highly specialized legless lizards. By looking at independent cases of leglessness we can look at the common features of the ecological factors that promote it, and the anatomical and developmental changes that make it happen. Every new discovery allows us to test ideas that have already been proposed, and to discover new twists and turns.”

“The two new species are quite rare and only occur in limited areas and have managed to go completely unnoticed until now.” Dr. Hutchinson mentioned.

The Queensland Museum solely has three specimens of 1 and 6 of the opposite in its herpetology assortment.

“This is an indication of hidden lives led by these small, (12 cm total length) slender lizards,” Dr. Hutchinson added.

“By using this technology, we can analyze all the different aspects of the new species in an integrated way. The very small number of specimens is a concerning indicator that they are probably limited to just a few places which is why this research is so important. We can only start protecting them if we know they are there.”

Blue-tongue vs red-bellied black: An Australian evolutionary arms race

More data:
Mark N. Hutchinson et al, Diversity and Systematics of Limbless Skinks (Anomalopus) from Eastern Australia and the Skeletal Changes that Accompany the Substrate Swimming Body Form, Journal of Herpetology (2021). DOI: 10.1670/20-137

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South Australian Museum

Two new species of skinks recognized (2021, October 21)
retrieved 22 October 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-10-species-skinks.html

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