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.”
June 2014 was Earth's warmest June since records began in 1880, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA rated June 2014 a bit cooler: the 3rd warmest. According to NOAA, the planet has now had three back-to-back warmest months on record--April, May and June of 2014. Global ocean temperatures during June 2014 had the greatest departure from average of any month in recorded history.
NOAA recently produced an interesting map showing when the hottest day of the year is likely to occur in the contiguous U.S. Complimenting this map is one produced by Brian Brettschneider of Borealis Scientific, LLC, which illustrates the date of summer’s midpoint (peak of summer average temperatures) which was reproduced in my blog posted last August. Brian has also produced maps of such for the Fall, Winter and Spring seasons. There is also some other great material from Brian herein.
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.