24 New Caribbean Lizards Found
by Christine Dell’Amore
The Anguilla Bank Skink (pictured top) is among 24 new species of skink found in the Caribbean—and one of only two known species in the region with a blue tail. The Caribbean had been thought to house just six species of these smooth-scaled lizards. But when study leader Blair Hedges and colleagues reexamined skink specimens in museums around the world, they found that the animals were much more diverse.
In addition to the 6 known species, the team found 24 brand new species and 9 species that had been previously described—and sometimes photographed—but considered invalid. In total, the team says, the Caribbean now has 39 known skink species.
Half of the newfound reptiles may be extinct or nearly extinct, mostly due to introduced predators—such as the small Indian mongoose—and deforestation, noted Hedges, whose study was published April 30 in the journal Zootaxa.
The Anguilla bank skink, which lives on the mongoose-free islands of Anguilla and St. Barthélemy (regional map), is a bit better off. But due to threats from habitat destruction and other invasive predators, such as the black rat, the study team proposes that the species be listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)…
(read more: National Geo)
(images: T - Karl Questal; BL - Carrot Rock Skink and BR - Dominica Skink, by Alejandro Sanchez)