Thorny devil, Moloch horridus

    Body length: 110 mm
    If you travel through the red sand and spinifex of arid Australia, look on the roads for a distinctive dumpy lizard with a short thick upward-curved tail, walking like a clockwork toy. Although harmless to all but ants, the thorny devil was named Moloch, after a ­fearsome god that ate children.

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    Southern angle-headed dragon, Hypsilurus spinipes

    Body length: 110 mm
    Don’t expect to find these dragons easily. Their crest of spines helps camouflage their outline as they cling discreetly to saplings and sneak silently from view as you approach. But you could get lucky. During an afternoon walk in Lamington National Park, author Steve K. Wilson found 11 females burying their leathery eggs in sunny clearings along track edges.

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    Lake Eyre dragon,
    Ctenophorus maculosus

    Body length 69mm
    A male Lake Eyre dragon eyes his bleak domain from a piece of wind-blasted driftwood. This humble perch, the centrepiece of his territory , is prime real estate. From here he can spy food and watch for mates and rivals.

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    Boyd’s forest dragon, Hypsilurus boydii

    Body length: 150 mm This spectacular dragon lives in the rainforests of north Queensland’s Wet Tropics. The best place to see them is Mossman Gorge, where they are abundant and accustomed to visitors.

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    Mountain heath dragon, Rankinia diemensis.

    Body length: 82 mm With a range that extends further south than any other dragon species’, this stocky lizard is the only dragon to reach Tasmania and live above the snowline on the mainland. It basks on rocks and logs in dry open forests and heaths.

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    Canegrass dragon, Diporiphora winneckei

    Body length: 64 mm
    This slender dragon with its distinctive striped underside is common across vast tracts of Australia’s sandy deserts. Extremely heat tolerant, with body ­temperatures reaching 40°C-plus, this species is alert but not particularly swift and generally stays close to the protective cover of spinifex or canegrass. Also known as the blue-lined dragon, its tail can reach three times its body length.

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    Frill-necked lizard, Chlamydosaurus kingii

    Body length: 258 mm
    Crossing Australia’s tropical woodlands during or just after the wet season, you’ll stand an excellent chance of spotting one of the big-ticket drawcards for northern visitors – a frill-necked lizard. They’re obvious on the bitumen but it takes a keener eye to see them clinging a metre or so above the ground on a rough-barked tree trunk.

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Gallery: Australian dragons

By AG STAFF | January 28, 2014

They’re resilient, they’re intriguing and Australia’s dragons are every bit as adventurous as their flame-throwing namesakes.