Herpetologists studying Australia’s Delicate Skink (Lampropholis delicata) discovered, quite by accident, that this species’ embryos somehow sense danger when their eggs are disturbed. In response, the tiny lizards erupt en masse – even if they are not quite ready to hatch! Also employed by Red-Eyed Treefrog tadpoles (Agalychnis callidryas, please see photo) this unique strategy is just one of many new discoveries indicating that reptile and amphibian embryos are more aware of their environments than we imagined (the embryos of some turtles even seek heat within the egg – please see article linked below). The fact that the Delicate Skink is a very common species, and that the discovery was made in a park near Sydney, Australia, also shows the value of studying animals that are near-at-hand – all hold secrets!
The Delicate Skink is a small, greenish-brown lizard that flashes iridescence in sunlight. This characteristic is responsible for its alternative common name, Rainbow Skink. Native to eastern Australia and Tasmania, it is often found in gardens, city parks and similar habitats. Aspirin-sized eggs deposited in flower pots and nursery soil may be responsible for the populations now established on New Zealand and Hawaii (where it has been dubbed the Plague Skink). Read More »