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Monday 23 July 2018

'Lost world' of creatures discovered in Australia

Flynn Murphy Sydney

Scientists have discovered a "lost world" of unknown creatures in a remote rainforest perched on a giant boulder plateau in Queensland, Australia.

The team of biologists found three unidentified reptile species living on the upland plateau, which is accessible only by helicopter because of a "monstrous wall" of "piled-up boulders the size of houses and cars".

The team, led by Dr Conrad Hoskin from James Cook University, and Dr Tim Laman from Harvard University, encountered a "bizarre" looking leaf-tailed gecko, a golden-coloured skink and a boulder-dwelling frog species during the four-day trek to Cape Melville.

It is believed the species have been isolated from their closest cousins for millions of years.

"We're talking about animals that are ancient – they would have been around in the rainforest of Gondwana . . . rainforest that's been there for all time," said Dr Hoskin.

"This (gecko) was mind-blowing, completely bizarre. It's really big, around eight inches with long spindly legs and huge eyes."

Patrick Couper, curator of reptiles and frogs at the Queensland Museum, said the newly-named Cape Melville leaf-tailed gecko was the "strangest new species to come across my desk in 26 years working as a professional herpetologist".

Dr Hoskin had known of the plateau, which is around 14.5km long and 5km wide, for more than a decade.

But his interest was re-ignited when Google Earth allowed him to view it from above. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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