Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Elusive Gecko Is a Top 10

The Cape Melville leaf-tailed gecko (Saltuarius eximius) has been named one of the world’s top ten new species for 2014 by the International Institute for Species Exploration.

“The new gecko is restricted to the uplands of Cape Melville and has a minute distribution,” said Dr Conrad Hoskin of James Cook University, who discovered it last year. “Cape Melville is an amazing place – a small upland plateau that is fortressed all around by massive boulder fields. It has been isolated from other rainforest areas for millions of years.”

The Cape Melville leaf-tailed gecko grows to about 20 cm long. It hides among boulders by day, emerging to hunt at night. Highly camouflaged, it sits motionless and head-down, waiting to ambush passing insects and spiders.

“It’s a relic from ancient times, when rainforest was more widespread, and it’s highly adapted to life in the boulder fields.”

The list is released each year on the birthday of Carl Linnaeus, the 18th century Swedish botanist who created the two-part Latin nomenclature used to name and classify organisms.