Aussies Trying To Determine If Newly Discovered Lizard Is Endangered

March 4, 2014

A species of lizard that was recently discovered in New South Wales, Australia has confounded the scientists who discovered it and are in the process of trying to determine if the reptile is an endangered species. The researchers, Claire McLean of the University of Melbourne and co-researcher  Steve Sass were on a  herping expedition in 2013, studying a different lizard species, the tawny dragon (Ctenophorus decresii) when they came across a new species of lizard they named the Barrier Range dragon (Ctenophorus mirrityana).

barrier ridge dragon

Photo courtesy The University of Melbourne

The Barrier Range dragon is known to frequent rocky outcroppings and habitats.

The researchers told ABC News Australia that the lizard was discovered in South Australia and in a rocky habitat that is shared with the tawny dragon. They found quite a few specimens during their expedition, all in rocky areas, but realized that they were highly localized and not widespread.

"If there are only two populations, and these populations are quite separate from each other, it wouldn't be that unlikely that the population could be wiped out, so if there's only two and the people working on it don't find more populations, it probably should be listed as endangered, MCLean told ABC News Australia."

barrier ridge dragon and co-discoverer Claire McLean

Photo courtesy University of Melbourne

University of Melbourne researcher Claire McLean helped discover the Barrier Range dragon when she was researching the tawny dragon in South Australia. She gave the lizard its scientific name, mirrityana, which means out in the sun in the local indiginous language.

McLean has continued her research on the tawny dragon while Sass has continued surveying the area for more populations of the barrier range dragon in an effort to determine its conservation status.

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