Select the search type
  • Site
  • Web
Search

The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Lost & Found Worlds

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, October 29, 2013/Categories: natural history, photography, environment, adventure , Archive Pick of the Week

Biogeography rule #1: odd things evolve on islands.

Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace discovered this natural fact while investigating strange plants and animals in the Galapagos and in Indonesia
. Their discoveries led to the central tenant of all evolutionary biology. Islands can be surrounded by water, savannas, deserts, or even boulders but a defining characteristic is that organisms living there are separated by distances and an inability to disperse. This separation allows evolution to create unique and often odd characteristics.

Amazing discoveries are still to be made on 'lost worlds' of isolated islands.

Conrad Hoskin, of James Cook University in Queensland, Australia announced the discovery of several unknown species on a mountain "sky island" in northern Queensland. The animals have been isolated from any related species for millions of years.
Hoskin, and colleagues from Harvard University, had to be helicoptered into the mountains of Cape Melville National Park at the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula because access was impossible otherwise. The entire mountain range consists of massive boulders the size of houses.

   
Cape Melville NP "Sky Island" Mountaintop Forests   (credit: photos by Conrad Hoskin, JCU)

Hoskin, a postdoctoral fellow at James Cook University, identified one of the new species as a leaf-tailed gecko. He commented: “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 might have also commented that the gecko is perfectly camouflaged to its strange and isolated boulder strewn environment. It blends in perfectly with the trees and rocks.


Leaf-tailed gecko, Saltuarius eximius  (credit: photo by Conrad Hoskin, JCU)

The field researcher continued: “The top of Cape Melville is a lost world. Finding these new species up there is the discovery of a life time - I'm still amazed and buzzing from it.”

More discoveries remain to be uncovered on other 'lost worlds'. Darwin and Wallace would have understood Hoskin's excitement in making his findings.

WHB




Print

Number of views (14829)/Comments (0)

Please login or register to post comments.

Name:
Email:
Subject:
Message:
x
Light Painting Friday, November 2, 20180

Light Painting

Nature creates a 'light painting'.

Very Old and Very Alive Thursday, November 1, 20180

Very Old and Very Alive

How old is old?

Tropical Dry Forests Wednesday, October 31, 20180

Tropical Dry Forests

Tropical dry forests in Latin America explained.

The Purple Plague Monday, October 29, 20180

The Purple Plague

California's purple plague.

Krakatoa Awakens, an update Sunday, October 28, 20180

Krakatoa Awakens, an update

Krakatoa is again active.

Autumn From Space Thursday, October 25, 20180

Autumn From Space

Satellite views of Autumn.

Sharks + Volcano = Sharkcano Wednesday, October 24, 20180

Sharks + Volcano = Sharkcano

Volcano adapted sharks.

Pale Red Dot Tuesday, October 23, 20180

Pale Red Dot

A CubSat's first photo.

Trusting Scientists Monday, October 22, 20180

Trusting Scientists

Scientists deserve more respect.

When a Chalk Dam Burst Sunday, October 21, 20180

When a Chalk Dam Burst

Brexit as a bursting dam.

Michael's Rainfall Friday, October 19, 20180

Michael's Rainfall

Hurricane data shown in animation.

Crazy Engineering: CubeSats Tuesday, October 16, 20180

Crazy Engineering: CubeSats

Here come the CubeSats.

Earthrise Reminder Sunday, October 14, 20180

Earthrise Reminder

Earthrise remains one of the most important photographs every captured.

What If All The Ice Melted? Friday, October 12, 20180

What If All The Ice Melted?

Melting ice has consequences.

Michael the Menace Thursday, October 11, 20180

Michael the Menace

A 2nd super-storm in two weeks hits

Bad for Bees Tuesday, October 9, 20180

Bad for Bees

Pesticides are 'bad for bees'.

Liquefied Soils Monday, October 8, 20180

Liquefied Soils

An Indonesian mountain just liquefied.
Colorado's Black Canyon Saturday, October 6, 20180

Colorado's Black Canyon

Landscape scale preservation.