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Three-clawed worm-skink | ©Ryan Francis   (Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia)
The Three-clawed worm-skink or Verreaux’s Skink, Anomalopus verreauxii (Scincidae) is one of the most common burrowing skinks in south-east Queensland, Australia.
At first glance the Verreaux’s Skink appears limbless but a closer look reveals tiny forelimbs and minute hind limbs. Under more careful examination, just three stubby fingers can be seen on the forelimbs, while the hind limbs are reduced to simple clawless spurs. As a further adaptation to burrowing, the ear-opening is covered by scales and is represented by a simple depression.
Verreaux’s Skinks grow to a total length of 33 cm, but like many skinks they can discard and re-grow their long, thick tails so a head and body measurement of 18 cm is a better indication of size.
[Source]

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Three-clawed worm-skink | ©Ryan Francis   (Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia)

The Three-clawed worm-skink or Verreaux’s Skink, Anomalopus verreauxii (Scincidae) is one of the most common burrowing skinks in south-east Queensland, Australia.

At first glance the Verreaux’s Skink appears limbless but a closer look reveals tiny forelimbs and minute hind limbs. Under more careful examination, just three stubby fingers can be seen on the forelimbs, while the hind limbs are reduced to simple clawless spurs. As a further adaptation to burrowing, the ear-opening is covered by scales and is represented by a simple depression.

Verreaux’s Skinks grow to a total length of 33 cm, but like many skinks they can discard and re-grow their long, thick tails so a head and body measurement of 18 cm is a better indication of size.

[Source]

Protecting the Northern River Terrapin

Our next field report comes from the Bhawal National Park in Bangladesh where the Northern River Terrapin (Batagur baska), one of the rarest turtles in the world, is having another good year!

Five of the six known females in the area have already nested, laying a total of 101 eggs! TSA is hopeful that the sixth female, which was discovered in a local pond and joined the breeding program in October 2013, will also produce eggs. All nests have been moved to a caged protected area on the beach for incubation, and temperatures are being carefully monitored in an effort to produce more females.

As in some other reptile species such as crocodiles, river terrapin sex is determined by environmental temperature after fertilization (Temperature dependent sex determination). Lower temperatures produce male hatchlings while a higher temperature will usually result in females. More females mean more eggs and a brighter future for this critically endangered species…

(read more: Turtle Survival Alliance)

Protecting the Burmese Roof Turtle

Exciting field report from Myanmar where one of the world’s most critically endangered turtles is making a remarkable recovery!

Nesting season is in full swing for the Burmese roof turtle (Batagur trivittata). This species was feared extinct until it was “rediscovered” in 2002 when three individuals were found in a temple pond. Until then, scientists hadn’t seen the Burmese roof turtle since the 1930s.

Now, thanks to the collaborative field efforts of TSA and Wildlife Conservation Society there are 700 turtles thriving under the watchful eye of conservationists in the region. Due to a comprehensive program which includes nest protection, head-starting young turtles for future release and breeding in protected settings, this delicate species has been brought back from the brink.

And this season is turning out to be a bumper crop for nesting. To date, as many as 150 eggs from eight clutches have been recorded! A huge thanks to SOS - Save Our Species for their continued support of our work with this incredible species. Stay tuned for more reports from the field!

(via: Turtle Survival Alliance)

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Rusty-topped Delma | ©Ryan Francis    (Spring Creek, Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia)
Delma borea is a legless lizard in the family Pygopodidae, known from Kimberley, Northern Territory, and Queensland, in Australia. 
This species has well developed hindlimb flaps, snout blunt, midbody scales in 18 rows, 4 nasal scales (supra nasal), 3 scales before vent (preanal). Long tail is 3.5 times length of body. Head and neck have 3-4 black to dark brown bands, with interspaces pale orange to cream.
[Source]

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Rusty-topped Delma | ©Ryan Francis    (Spring Creek, Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia)

Delma borea is a legless lizard in the family Pygopodidae, known from Kimberley, Northern Territory, and Queensland, in Australia

This species has well developed hindlimb flaps, snout blunt, midbody scales in 18 rows, 4 nasal scales (supra nasal), 3 scales before vent (preanal). Long tail is 3.5 times length of body. Head and neck have 3-4 black to dark brown bands, with interspaces pale orange to cream.

[Source]

The Wilderness Act – turning 50 in September
… doesn’t just help clean the water for this alligator at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, GA/FL, which has 354,000 acres of designated wilderness. 
The Wilderness Act helps us all – and gives us a chance to find recreation in places nearly untouched by man. Celebrate the Wilderness Act this year by finding solitude and beauty in wilderness – and maybe getting a chance to see animals like this, in person: 
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - National Wildlife Refuge System 
Photo by John Reed

The Wilderness Act – turning 50 in September

… doesn’t just help clean the water for this alligator at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, GA/FL, which has 354,000 acres of designated wilderness.

The Wilderness Act helps us all – and gives us a chance to find recreation in places nearly untouched by man. Celebrate the Wilderness Act this year by finding solitude and beauty in wilderness – and maybe getting a chance to see animals like this, in person:

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - National Wildlife Refuge System

Photo by John Reed

noworseforwear
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Golden-crowned Snake - Cacophis squamulosus | ©George Cruiser (Lamington National Park, Australia)
Cacophis squamulosus (Elapidae) is a small (50 - 75 cm length) nocturnal, terrestrial species native to Australia, that is sometimes encountered on warm nights in suburban areas.
This snake is venomous, but not considered dangerous. When cornered, they flatten their heads, arch the neck strongly and make a series of striking movements with a closed mouth, but rarely actually bite. 
[Source]

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Golden-crowned Snake - Cacophis squamulosus | ©George Cruiser (Lamington National Park, Australia)

Cacophis squamulosus (Elapidae) is a small (50 - 75 cm length) nocturnal, terrestrial species native to Australia, that is sometimes encountered on warm nights in suburban areas.

This snake is venomous, but not considered dangerous. When cornered, they flatten their heads, arch the neck strongly and make a series of striking movements with a closed mouth, but rarely actually bite. 

[Source]

reptilefacts
reptilefacts:

The Southern Smooth Snake, (Coronella girondica) is a harmless colubrid species found in southern Europe and northern Africa. This species natural habitats are temperate forests, Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation, rocky areas, pastureland, and plantations. This species is threatened by habitat loss.
Photo originally posted by jasiehiss, photo taken by MP7Aquit

reptilefacts:

The Southern Smooth Snake, (Coronella girondica) is a harmless colubrid species found in southern Europe and northern Africa. This species natural habitats are temperate forests, Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation, rocky areas, pastureland, and plantations. This species is threatened by habitat loss.

Photo originally posted by jasiehiss, photo taken by MP7Aquit

Revision of the Pygmy Spiny-tailed Skinks (Egernia depressa species-group) from Western Australia, with descriptions of three new species  [2011]
Egernia depressa is an extremely spiny species of scincid lizard that occurs in several populations with highly variable morphology in western Australia. Using a combination of fixed morphological character differences and mitochondrial DNA sequence data, we found evidence for four species level groups within the complex.
We restrict E. depressa to the log-inhabiting population from south-western Australia and resdescribe the species, and describe three new species from the aridzone: two from the Pilbara and one from the central ranges. In addition to the genetic differences, thespecies differ in head size, limb length, tail shape, colouration and scalation.
Many of the morphological characters appear to be adaptations to log or rock-dwelling, with the log-dwelling E. depressa having brown colouration, large head, limbs and tail and long thin spines on the body and tail. The two Pilbara species are not each other’s closest relatives, yet they resemble each other the closest, probably owingto a suite of characters adapted for living in rock crevices such as yellow to reddish colouration, smaller head and limbs, narrower tail and short strong spines on the body and tail.
The central ranges species appears to have a combination of characters from log and rock-dwelling forms and is the most isolated of the four species.
read paper here.
(via: NovaTaxa - Species New to Science)
photo: Henry Cook/flickr

Revision of the Pygmy Spiny-tailed Skinks (Egernia depressa species-group) from Western Australia, with descriptions of three new species  [2011]

Egernia depressa is an extremely spiny species of scincid lizard that occurs in several populations with highly variable morphology in western Australia. Using a combination of fixed morphological character differences and mitochondrial DNA sequence data, we found evidence for four species level groups within the complex.

We restrict E. depressa to the log-inhabiting population from south-western Australia and resdescribe the species, and describe three new species from the aridzone: two from the Pilbara and one from the central ranges. In addition to the genetic differences, thespecies differ in head size, limb length, tail shape, colouration and scalation.

Many of the morphological characters appear to be adaptations to log or rock-dwelling, with the log-dwelling E. depressa having brown colouration, large head, limbs and tail and long thin spines on the body and tail. The two Pilbara species are not each other’s closest relatives, yet they resemble each other the closest, probably owingto a suite of characters adapted for living in rock crevices such as yellow to reddish colouration, smaller head and limbs, narrower tail and short strong spines on the body and tail.

The central ranges species appears to have a combination of characters from log and rock-dwelling forms and is the most isolated of the four species.

read paper here.

(via: NovaTaxa - Species New to Science)

photo: Henry Cook/flickr

TSA Turtle Tuesday:  Asian Mountain Tortoise
 Did you know the Asian mountain tortoise (Manouria emys) is one of the only turtle species that provides maternal protection for its eggs? 
After making a nest on the surface of the ground, the female will cover the eggs with vegetation and stand guard! If a potential threat approaches, she will push and bite to ward off the predator. If this doesn’t work, the protective tortoise will place herself over the eggs and hunker down! Both surface nests and nest protection are unique characteristics among chelonians. 
You can read more about this critically endangered species and our ongoing conservation efforts on our website…
Turtle Survival Alliance

TSA Turtle Tuesday:  Asian Mountain Tortoise

Did you know the Asian mountain tortoise (Manouria emys) is one of the only turtle species that provides maternal protection for its eggs?

After making a nest on the surface of the ground, the female will cover the eggs with vegetation and stand guard! If a potential threat approaches, she will push and bite to ward off the predator. If this doesn’t work, the protective tortoise will place herself over the eggs and hunker down! Both surface nests and nest protection are unique characteristics among chelonians.

You can read more about this critically endangered species and our ongoing conservation efforts on our website…

Turtle Survival Alliance

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Arafura File Snake | ©Ryan Francis   (Gregory River, Queensland, Australia)
 Acrochordus arafurae (Acrochordidae) is a non-venomous and aquatic snake, found in the coastal regions of northern Australia and also New Guinea.
This species reaches a maximum length of 2.5 m (1.5 m average). They are sexually dimorophic with females generally the larger sex. File snakes have small, but very strongly keeled scales, which give them the texture of a file. Their skin is very loose and baggy. Colors vary slightly, but most are light brown or gray with dark brown or black reticulations extending from a broad vertebral band that gives a cross-banded, or a blotchy appearance on the dorsal surface of the body. 
[Source]

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Arafura File Snake | ©Ryan Francis   (Gregory River, Queensland, Australia)

Acrochordus arafurae (Acrochordidae) is a non-venomous and aquatic snake, found in the coastal regions of northern Australia and also New Guinea.

This species reaches a maximum length of 2.5 m (1.5 m average). They are sexually dimorophic with females generally the larger sex. File snakes have small, but very strongly keeled scales, which give them the texture of a file. Their skin is very loose and baggy. Colors vary slightly, but most are light brown or gray with dark brown or black reticulations extending from a broad vertebral band that gives a cross-banded, or a blotchy appearance on the dorsal surface of the body. 

[Source]

astronomy-to-zoology

astronomy-to-zoology:

Dog-faced Water Snake (Cerberus rynchops)

Also known as the “New Guinea Bockadam”  the dog-faced water snake is a species of Homalopsine colubrid snake that is found in coastal waters around Asia and Australia. Dog-faced water snakes typically inhabit mangrove forests, steams, ponds, tidal pools and mudflats. C. rynchops is mildly venomous and feeds mainly on a wide variety of fish.

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Reptilia-Squamata-Serpentes-Colubridae-Homalopsinae-Cerberus-C. rynchops

Images: Mark O’Shea and Kingshuk Mondal