Photographer Shoots Western Serpentiform Skink That Was Thought to Be Extinct

September 28, 2015

Photographer Sjoerd van Berge Henegouwen initially thought the reptile that he shot in the Masai Mara in Kenya was a snake, but upon closer inspection of the photographers, it was revealed that the 20-inch reptile was actually a Western Serpentiform skink, a skink with tiny legs that was thought to have gone extinct decades ago because no live specimens had been seen in recent years. 

Henegouwen posted his photos onto Facebook and the reptile world became excited with the shots, including Dr. Philip Wagner, who said that Henegouwen’s photos are the first that show a living specimen. Wagner told the Daily Mail that the photographs are very important in that they gave herpetologists a better description of the skink, which had previously been described with museum specimens in jars. The photos give an intimate detail as to the color and patterns of the skink and even show the tiny and useless limbs that protrude out from the skink’s body. The coloration of the animal is also striking and the tongue is also present in the shot, clearly showing that the animal is not a snake, which have forked tongues. 

Western Serpentiform skinks are native to countries in east Africa, including Kenya, Zambia an Tanzania. Their habitat includes grasslands that are frequented by wildebeests and it is speculated that the skink had left the grasslands for a roadside due to the migration of the wildebeests, which enabled  to capture the images. 

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