The first-ever biological expedition of Australia's "lost world" - the small patch of rain forest in Cape York - has resulted in the discovery of three new species!
Cape York is a large peninsula located on at the tip of Australia's state of Queensland. This secluded piece of the continent is largely regarded as one of the largest, unspoiled wilderness areas on Earth.
Cape Melville. Photo via National Geographic.
This past March, an expert team of scientists and filmmakers ventured to the small range of mountain plateaus on Cape Melville (located on the northeastern part of the peninsula). During their four-day expedition, the group discovered and identified three new species of animals: a leaf-tail gecko, a blotched-boulder frog and a shade skink.
These species are especially exciting and interesting for our community as they're representative of the unique ways animals adapt to the harsh environment of Australia. For example, the blotched-boulder frog has evolved to minimize the need for water in its reproduction - an adaption to suit its dry rocky environment!
It's thought that primitive versions of the leaf-tail gecko once flourished in the Australian rain forest. Now we know that they have survived over the years by using their flat, uniquely-shaped body to camouflage itself into the rocky terrain, avoiding predators and waiting patiently for prey!
Leaf-tail gecko perfectly camouflaged. Photo via National Geographic.
It's exciting to see these discoveries make headlines because many outside of the continent are unaware that a lot of Australia, a country almost the size of the continental United States, has yet to be discovered. Unlike the South American rain forest, which has been well-traveled and documented by scientists for decades, Australia's land is rough and oftentimes difficult to navigate. It's climate range can also make extended trips a challenge.
To learn more about these recent discoveries, click here. I'll be sure to share more information as the team continues their expedition!