Two new lizards discovered in Queensland

By Amy Middleton 19 December 2012
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Two new species of brightly-coloured rainbow skink have been identified by experts.

TWO NEW SPECIES OF skink have been discovered in the Townsville region in Queensland.

Details of the new species – the elegant rainbow skink (Carlia decora), and the orange-flanked rainbow skink (Carlia rubigo) – were published yesterday in a paper in the international journal Zootaxa.


New species discovered: orange-flanked rainbow skink (Carlia rubigo).

Dr Conrad Hoskin, a biologist at James Cook University, and Patrick Couper from the Queensland Museum, discovered the two new species during a detailed study of another lizard. “Both species are small skinks belonging to the genus Carlia, a diverse group of skinks in tropical Australia,” Conrad says.

Two new species of rainbow skink

“The species names are in reference to the bright colours sported by breeding males of each species,” says Conrad. “Decora means ‘beautiful’ in Latin, with males of that species marked with vivid orange and blue, while rubigo translates to ‘rust’, referring to the rusty orange colour of males of that species.”

Conrad says that while scientists had always known these skinks existed, they had been calling several species by one name.

“It would be like calling the eastern grey kangaroo, western grey kangaroo and red kangaroo one species,” he says.

The elegant rainbow skink can be found in forests in the Townsville and Mackay areas, while the orange-flanked rainbow skink is found in drier areas of eastern and central Queensland, such as Magnetic Island, Cape Cleveland and Herveys Range.