New Australian lizard discovery

The coastal plains skink, which was recently discovered in WA. Picture: AFP/Australian National University/Brad Maryan

From AAP news agency:

Fears for lizard species discovered in WA

October 29, 2012 12:38PM

A NEW species of lizard has been discovered in sand dunes outside Perth but scientists fear it faces extinction with urban sprawl rapidly closing in.

The six-centimetre-long Ctenotus ora, or the coastal plains skink, was found by Australian National University ecologist Geoffrey Kay and colleague Scott Keogh during research on biological diversity in southwestern Australia.

Mr Kay said it was a fantastic discovery, but warned that urban encroachment could wipe the species out.

The small stretch of sand the brown and white skink called home was steadily being concreted, he said.

“Our new lizard is under serious risk of being erased just as suddenly as it appeared to us,” Mr Kay said.

“Developments along the coastline near Perth need to consider this new lizard and potentially a large number of other species yet to be discovered in this diverse part of the world.”

Mr Kay said the exact size of the skink population was unknown but it was clear that numbers were low as only a few of them had been found.

He said the new research that led to the skink’s discovery showed that biodiversity in southwestern Australia – particularly for reptiles – was far deeper and more extreme than previously imagined.

The region is already recognised as one of the top 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world, alongside places like Madagascar.

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