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Blog about animals
Selected the best cow in Germany
Fishing ban proposed near Rockall after rare scientific finds
Life and death on the riverbank
Baboon shot dead after escaping from Knowsley Safari Park
Birdwatch: Peregrine falcon
Iceland's fin whales are endangered. Stop this bloody cull
The pitfalls of elderly dog insurance
Valley where Edward Carpenter, gay rights campaigner and socialist, walked
Green groups warn government of national parks hunting backlash
Demand for ivory destabilising central Africa
Dog walker found neighbour trampled by cows, inquest hears
Cat stands for election in Mexican city
I hear some hip cat's running for mayor in Mexico. That gives me an idea
Wader chick fever grips birds and spotters alike
Philippines destroys five tonnes of elephant tusks
The Dwyfor is surely one of the loveliest of Welsh rivers
New to nature No 107: Typhochlaena costae
How to beat the midges this summer
Controversial herring gull cull gets green light
Whaling's day in court is a sea change for conservation
Australia censures Japan for 'scientific' whaling
The young red deer stags were on their hind legs boxing, just like hares
Our garden's blackbirds started their nest-building early this year
UK wildlife and nature hit hard by erratic weather
  New to nature No 108: Carlia decora
With nearly 400 recorded species, skinks are the largest family of lizards in Australia. They are widespread, common and spectacularly diverse. From snake-like legless species to the heavy-bodied land mullet that can live more than 20 years and reach a length of 70cm, to the six species of blue-tongues with their bizarre, large, blue-coloured tongues that simultaneously warn off would-be predators and attract herpetologists. Thanks to Dr Conrad Hoskin of James Cook University and co-author Patrick Couper of the Queensland Museum, the list of skinks down under is now a bit longer.

Carlia decora, the elegant rainbow skink, was discovered in Queensland, in forested habitats in and near Townsville and Mackay. In fact, the new species is among the most common skinks in Townsville and is a familiar sight to gardeners. The new name is from the Latin decora, meaning beautiful and requires no further etymological explanation. The males' vivid orange and blue colours say it all. The native habitats for the species includes moist open forests, rainforest margins, and vine thickets in coastal stretches of Queensland receiving high rainfall.

A second species described by the pair was Carlia rubigo, given the common name orange-flanked rainbow skink. A bit more subdued in colour, its males' blue-coloured heads give way to rusty orange on the body. The orange-flanked rainbow skink occurs in dry and open inland forests of eastern Queensland, encroaching on coastal localities. The species has not been seen in Townsville but occupies surrounding rocky ranges, including Herveys Range, Cape Cleveland and Magnetic Island, where it is said to be the most common lizard.

Herpetologists have seen these species many times before, but both had been lumped together with the widespread species Carlia pectoralis and a fourth species, C inconnexa. The four are consistently differentiated by a combination of colour patterns, morphology, and details of the patterns of their scales in addition to geography and habitat preferences.

The former subspecies, C inconnexa, is endemic to rocky open forests on islands of the Whitsundays. C pectoralis prefers open forested habitat in south-east Queensland and is not so widely distributed as once thought. After straightening out this pectoralis "complex", Australian species of Carlia now number 22 of which 17 are in Queensland.

Now that the four species are known and identifiable, additional field studies are needed to work out the full extent of each of their geographic ranges. While there is some overlap of distributions, there are also ecological differences that will ultimately help explain both the historical origins and current occurrences of the species.

Teasing apart closely related species provides finer-grained data for conservation purposes as well as making natural history data accessible for each species that was irretrievable when stored under only one name.
'Wild' animals in travelling circuses benefit no one
The intoxicated world of the spotted flycatcher
Fishing quotas can be redistributed to favour smaller vessels high court
Madagascar battling worst locust plague since 1950s
A broody sparrow meets his match
Climate change is happening too quickly for species to adapt
The weird and wonderful world of the naked mole rat
Australian woman seriously injured during Spanish bull run
Spain's endangered Iberian lynx brought back from brink of extinction
One man and his sniffer dog help tackle Germany's hidden drug problem
The hotel that only takes dogs
T rex tooth found embedded in prey, restoring dinosaur's reputation
Bog cotton covers the summer Peak District moors in snow
Lifelike after death: the intricacies of a taxidermist's craft
The six-spot burnet moths complete their transformation
Research on animals in UK rises by 8% to exceed 4m procedures
Animal testing it's time to talk about it again
A pair of lithe animals are tumbling across the grass within feet of me
New to nature no 109: Anochetus hohenbergiae
England's ceremonial mayors eschew fur to support animal rights
Birdwatch: Corn bunting
Madrid declares war on plague of raccoon and parrot invaders
Snow leopards and wild yaks becoming 'fashion victims'
Horn seizure prompts rhinos warning
Threatened seabirds 'neglected' in plans for Scottish marine protected areas
Los Angeles campgrounds closed after plague-infected squirrel found
Only when I look down at the last second do I see it. I recoil instinctively
China's wine boom of little profit to giant pandas and small farmers
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Let's not martyr the white-throated needletail to the anti-wind cause
Grasshopper breeder up for design award and educating western palates
Spanish national park could lose Unesco status over illegal boreholes
Dog mauls boy at primary school in Northern Ireland
Our dog walks are punctuated by the corn bunting's jingling ringtone
End in sight for painful branding of semi-wild moorland ponies
New to nature No 108: Carlia decora
Penguins support gorillas as biscuit makers respond to palm oil threat
Measuring carbon age in ivory could help combat poaching, study shows
How to survive a seagull attack
A walk by the river triggers memories of a bygone age
Whales flee from military sonar leading to mass strandings, research shows
Down among the grass stems, a ball of recently hatched orb-web spiderlings
Owen Paterson vows to rid England of bovine TB with badger culls
Gassing of badgers considered in plan to eradicate TB in cattle
Visitors to the Pamplona bull run have blood on their hands
Bats: they've never had it so good
These dew ponds have been on the Downs possibly since medieval times
Australian bushman claims to have footage of legendary night parrot
Secret badger shoots pose 'a risk to public safety'
Cheshire police seize dog believed to have killed Pomeranian
Whale watching season is back - but how close is too close?
Plan to ban wild animals in travelling circuses 'goes too far'
Morrissey donates Channel 4 payout to Peta campaign against foie gras
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