Friday, June 23, 2006

Armitage's skink

We are not just searching for the two giant reptiles. We are also hoping to get photographs of a much smaller reptile - one of the world's most elusive lizards. Chris Moiser tells us more:

Armitage’s Skink
Chalcides armitagei

Named after its discoverer Captain C. H. Armitage by E. G. Boulenger then head of reptiles at London Zoo who first described it in 1922. To look at it is a fairly unremarkable small lzard about 5” long with a tail of about 3.5”. Unlike most of the other lizards in the area where it comes from it has 3 toes on each limb.Captain Cecil Hamilton Armitage (1869-1933) was the Governor of the Gambia from 1920 – 1927 and was described as a generous donor to the Zoological Gardens of London.

The 3 (living) specimens of this lizard having arrived in a collection of reptiles that Armiatge had sent from the Gambia. These specimens ultimately ended up in the British Museum (preserved), where 2 are labelled “Gambia” and one “Cape St Mary”In 1989 the lizards were effectively rediscovered by The Gambian Dwarf Crocodile Project people. They believed it to be restricted to a narrow sandy coastal fringe which was rapidly being lost due to the increase in tourist hotel construction. The site where the found the animals in 1989 had been cleared for construction in 1990. An FAO survey suggests that they may also exist in the Tanji area.

Chris Moiser June 2006

The creature is so obscure thatthe only picture we can find of it is here:


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