What do you find when you travel deep into a remote area of Australia? Three animal species new to science — a gecko, a skink and a frog — plus a host of “other interesting species” and millions of black granite boulders, some the size of cars and houses.
That’s what scientist Conrad Hoskin, a postdoctoral fellow at James Cook University in Queensland, discovered when he went trekking with National Geographic photographer Tim Laman (who also happens to be a Harvard University researcher) this past March.
“Finding three new, obviously distinct vertebrates would be surprising enough in somewhere poorly explored like New Guinea, let alone in Australia, a country we think we’ve explored pretty well,” Hoskin said in a news release. Hoskin named the three new animals, an account of which will appear in the October issue of the peer-reviewed journal Zootaxa.
The new frog species discovered by scientists in a remote part of Australia. (Tim Laman/National Geographic)
For Hoskin, the highlight was the leaf-tailed gecko, which he named Saltuarius eximius. This creature hides in the area’s giant boulders by day. By night, it hunts, waiting silently to pounce on unsuspecting insects and spiders. It has huge eyes (likely adapted to help it see in and around the boulders) and a longer body and limbs than the six other geckos in its genus, according to the Zootaxa article about the species.
The frog, called the Blotched Boulder-frog (Cophixalus petrophilus), lives only in the boulder fields of Cape Melville, staying tucked away in the cool, dark boulders until it rains. Then it comes to the surface to eat and breed. “You might wonder how a frog’s tadpoles can live in a ‘hollow’ boulder-field with no water sitting around,” Hoskin said. “The answer is that the eggs are laid in moist rock cracks and the tadpoles develop within the eggs, guarded by the male, until fully formed froglets hatch out.”
The third species, a skink — a secretive type of ground-dwelling lizard — called Saproscincussaltushas unique color patterns and longer limbs and digits than the 11 other previously described skink species, according to the Zootaxa article.
“The top of Cape Melville is a lost world,” Hoskin said. “Finding these new species up there is the discovery of a lifetime. I’m still amazed and buzzing from it.”
In 2013 the official NHC forecast for Atlantic storms was better than any individual computer models at most forecast time periods, although NOAA's HWRF model did slightly better than the NHC official forecast for 5-day forecasts. Once again, the European Center (ECMWF) and GFS models were the top performers, when summing up all track forecasts made for all Atlantic named storms.
July was the 4th warmest such since 1880 according to NOAA and the 11th warmest according to NASA data (the difference in assessments is due to several factors which I’ll discuss in a future blog). It was unusually cool in the central portion of the U.S. while record warmth was observed in parts of the U.S. Northwest, Scandinavia and the Baltic nations. Several powerful typhoons made landfall in East Asia and Hurricane Arthur took a swipe at North Carolina.
This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.
Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.
Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.