‘Lost world’ found in remote Australia

‘Lost world’ found in remote Australia

SYDNEY - Agence France-Presse
‘Lost world’ found in remote Australia

This photo, taken by Conrad Hoskin, shows a new leaftail gecko in the rugged Cape Melville mountain range, Australia’s Cape York Peninsula. AFP photo

An expedition to a remote part of northern Australia has uncovered three new vertebrate species isolated for millions of years, with scientists yesterday calling the area a “lost world.”

Conrad Hoskin from James Cook University and a National Geographic film crew were dropped by helicopter onto the rugged Cape Melville mountain range on Cape York Peninsula earlier this year and were amazed at what they found.

 It included a bizarre looking leaf-tail gecko, a gold-colored skink, a type of lizard, and a brown-spotted, yellow boulder-dwelling frog, none of them ever seen before.

“The top of Cape Melville is a lost world. Finding these new species up there is the discovery of a lifetime, I’m still amazed and buzzing from it,” said Hoskin, a tropical biologist from the Queensland-based university.

 “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.”

Also discovered was a small boulder-dwelling frog, the Blotched Boulder-frog, which during the dry season lives deep in the labyrinth of the boulder-field where conditions are cool and moist, allowing female frogs to lay their eggs in wet cracks in the rocks. In the absence of water, the tadpole develops within the egg and a fully formed frog hatches out.