Monday, April 28, 2008

La Gomera Gets New Reptile Species

Article from Tenerife News
Skinks, those small(ish), slithery reptiles halfway between a lizard and a snake, are in the news after a study carried out by Spanish, British and French geneticists decided that the Gomera variety is a species in its own right rather than the sub-species it was previously taken for.

DNA testing has proved conclusively that the Gomeran skink (Chalcides viridanus) is an endemic one-off and it already has a new unscientific name: the Lisa de Salvador, in honour of Alfredo Salvador, investigator in evolutionary ecology at Madrid’s Natural Science Museum, who first noticed their difference and got them categorized as a sub-species back in 1975.

Skinks, or lisas as they are known here, are found in abundance in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, La Gomera and El Hierro and their survival is not under any threat. They are thought to have arrived in Gran Canaria, probably in a floating log or other botanical debris. From Gran Canaria they somehow got to Tenerife, probably by the same method. Then came La Gomera. Their colonization of El Hierro must have been later given that that island is geologically the youngest of the islands in the archipelago.

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