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Snake lizard rediscovered after 111 years in Australia

02/06/2009 12:20:35

Bronzeback Snake-lizard, rediscovered after 111 years. Images courtesy of Peter McDonald.

Bronzeback Snake-lizard not seen since 1897
June 2009. The Bronzeback Snake-lizard was re-discovered in 2008, after not being sighted in Australia's Northern Territory (NT) for 111 years according NT Biodiversity senior scientist Dr Chris Pavey.

Northern Territory Government scientists in Alice Springs have recently completed a detailed survey of the Bronzeback Snake-lizard to get a better understanding of its abundance, threats and management requirements.
Dr Pavey said "The Bronzeback Snake-lizard had not been seen since 1897, when the first specimen known to science was collected near Charlotte Waters, in the extreme south of the Northern Territory. Last year we came across the little-known lizard during a survey for the Latz's Wattle in the Finke bioregion south of Alice Springs.

"Following the rediscovery more detailed surveys have been carried out and the lizard has been observed at a number of sites along the Northern Territory/South Australia border. Ongoing surveys have helped us gain an understanding of their habitat requirements and threats facing them."

Small lizard that grows to just 24cms long
Dr Pavey said the appropriately named Bronzeback Snake-lizard is a species of small legless lizard that grows up to 25cm in length.

"The most striking feature of the animal is its bronze or rich fawn upper body, the contrasting pale grey head and the broad, dark brown lateral band from the snout to the tip of the tail," Dr Pavey added.

"The species seem to live in dense leaf litter along temporary watercourses that typically cut through stony gibber plains. The Bronzeback Snake-lizard is classified nationally as a Vulnerable species because of the limited distribution and the threat caused by habitat modification."

Dr Pavey said the survey results have been very satisfying and are an indication of how much remained to be discovered about the distribution of native plants and animals of the Northern Territory.

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