If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it be?

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Don Cascabel
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If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it be?

Post by Don Cascabel » December 4th, 2013, 12:41 pm

Sorry for not having posted in a while... I have been in the field most of the summer in Chiapas and Oaxaca and such... Anyhow, I am back with a question for all the seasoned field herpers on here. If you were to go out and try to rediscover a herp, which one would it be and why. I am talking about any of the following situations.

A. An animal currently considered extinct, or extinct in the wild. This means it is a species formerly described but which hasn't been found in the wild for enough years, DESPITE ACTIVE SEARCHES, that the IUCN has decided to declare it EXTINCT. An example of this would be the recently "re-discovered" Palestine Painted Frog (Discoglossus nigriventer).

B. An animal that is only known from it's type specimen, type-series or has not been seen in more than two decades. There are many of these, especially in the tropics. An example of this would be our rediscovery of the Manantlán Long-tailed Rattlesnake (Crotalus lannomi).

C. An animal which had an isolated population or subspecies which was thought to have been extirpated in that area, but is still known in other adjunct populations. This is in my opinion less exciting the the first two options, but arguably equally important. There are many known cases of this... I can't think of a published case right now... but for example Tim Burkhardt and I rediscovered the Sheep Frog, Hypopachus variolosus in Sonora in 2002. They had not been seen there since 1972 or 1974 or some date like that.

Just curious... this is something I want to keep doing more of, and I have a couple interesting ideas for projects for this coming year. I will be looking for each of the three scenarios... but I am curious what other peoples opinions to priorities would be!

Cheers,

Don Cascabel

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Antonsrkn » December 4th, 2013, 12:53 pm

T. rex, that rediscovery would make some waves haha.

But in all seriousness the first the herp that popped into my head was the Monteverde Golden toad. Not only is it a gorgeous species but discovering that it was still out there would give me hope that chytrid wasn't irrevocably wiping out certain species and that there was still a chance for them, it would almost be symbolic. Its sad but i think the chances for the rediscovery of this species are about nil, considering the limited range and the fact that tons of people visit the area and still haven't seen them.

I like the idea for this thread, its interesting.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by MattSullivan » December 4th, 2013, 2:21 pm

^stole both of my ideas. T rex would be badass, and the golden toad is the icon of extinct amphibians and to rediscover one would be incredible

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by chrish » December 4th, 2013, 2:23 pm

I agree. Rediscovering one of the frog species that recently became extinct would be lot more rewarding than finding the second/third/fourth etc. of a species which was only known from a single record. In the latter case, it would simply have been a case of people not having looked the right way in the right areas.

But rediscovering a species presumed lost due to a massive die off would be monumental, if it could be saved. Sort of like the Black-footed Ferret story.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by DracoRJC » December 4th, 2013, 3:09 pm

Hoplodactylus delacourti, aka the New Zealand giant gecko or the kawekaweau.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by stlouisdude » December 4th, 2013, 3:17 pm

Alhough there is an occasional frog I'll go out f my way to see, I pretty much view them as snake food lol If something is incredibly rare and isolated to one or two small populations, I view it as functionally extinct. I prefer to focus my efforts on species that are still reasonably common. I can see where someone who wanted to collect a special speciman would get excited but as far a conservation goes I never understood why we want to let common species slide down the tubes while expending tremendous time and energy on something that's been rendered irrelevant. I suppose it's C for me.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by El Garia » December 4th, 2013, 3:26 pm

DracoRJC wrote:Hoplodactylus delacourti, aka the New Zealand giant gecko or the kawekaweau.
:beer:

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by speedy » December 4th, 2013, 3:34 pm

Either of the Rheobatrachus species of frog. Aka gastric brooding frogs. Nothing else does what they did.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Don Cascabel » December 4th, 2013, 4:28 pm

There's a reason to my question but I want to let this run a bit longer before I give more details. As a response to your comment Chris, the reason that rediscovering animals that are known from only one specimen is very important, is because all to quickly, and all to arbitrarily they end up in the "Extinct" category because some biologist somewhere thinks the fact that it hasn't been found in 30 or 40 years automatically means that it is extinct. This is very common in latin america (and I am sure other parts of the world) and quickly species are considered "likely extinct" even though noone has ever searched the type locality!!!

Cheers,

Chris

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Tim Borski » December 4th, 2013, 4:59 pm

I love this. What a great idea for a post, Chris! Where I live there is nothing of interest in this department (Unless you're in the camp that feels F. seminola ever existed.)

Personally, I would bet there's a better than even chance there's Micrurus out there...MX/SA, that has yet to be turned up.

I can't wait to see where this thread goes...

Tim

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Jeff
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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Jeff » December 4th, 2013, 5:17 pm

I sort of rediscovered a snake known only from a single specimen collected in Ethiopia in the 1940s -- a blind snake, Leptotyphlops parkeri. The discovery was made in a museum here in Louisiana, of a mis-identified specimen. It was collected by Tulane herpetologist Harold Dundee in 1972 when he stepped out of a lodge one night at Tsavo N.P., Kenya, to relieve himself. At least it was worth a paper in Zootaxa.

But if I should venture afield....

1) Meiolania, the giant horned turtle of South Pacific Islands, that was hunted to extinction about the time of Christ. The reason, just look at the skeleton -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meiolania

2) The Mauritius Boa Bolyeria multocarinata, a very unique split-jawed snake that was last seen in 1975, never reared in captivity, and seems truly gone based on intensive surveys. I believe only five or so are in museums. The reason -- study the strange jaw mechanics during feeding (parallel to Casarea dussumieri, which, unlike Bolyeria, enjoys a captive breeding program).

3) The blind snake Ramphotyphlops multilineatus of New Guinea. I don't believe any have been collected for decades. Reason: type species of the genus Ramphotyphlops, and DNA sequence analysis would allocate which taxa belong to Ramphotyphlops as opposed to other recognized Australo-papuan clades (fascinating, right?).

Jeff

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Sam Sweet » December 4th, 2013, 6:34 pm

Varanus priscus, Australia. I dunno why except that we badly need a 6+ m lizard.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Geqqo » December 4th, 2013, 8:25 pm

Too many to chose but i was always fascinated with Phelsuma edwardnewtoni because its relatives were so common and opportunistic. Also either Cylindraspis. And somewhat less realistically, but only because 100 million years stands in between its last breath and the others I chose, Sarcosuchus. I also fully expect all the scenarios that play out in the quest to find these species shall be uncannily similar to Indiana Jones circa 1981.

Dan

edit: sorry Don I got caught up in Sam's search for a twenty foot monitor, not sure anything except the Phelsuma meet your criteria.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by ADCIII » December 4th, 2013, 8:48 pm

A bit closer to home , it really doesn't fit in A, B or C, but has everyone given up on Bipes in southern AZ? Art

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by occidentalis » December 4th, 2013, 10:25 pm

Abronia mitchelli

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by PrimitiveTim » December 5th, 2013, 5:17 am

C'mon I think we can all agree that pterodactyls are the coolest things that ever existed!

More realistically though, south Florida rainbow snake for me.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Sam Bacchini » December 5th, 2013, 7:11 am

DracoRJC wrote:Hoplodactylus delacourti, aka the New Zealand giant gecko or the kawekaweau.
Good call there.

My first thought was Macroscincus coctei. An equivalent to Corucia zebrata but from the Cape Verde Islands off the north coast of Africa.

Another good one would be Mekosuchus inexpectatus which was a fully terrestrial crocodile from New Caledonia.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by AndyO'Connor » December 5th, 2013, 8:11 am

Closest to home would be long-nosed leopard lizards in Washington state. There are museum records from the 1800s in places that are now populated or agriculture lands of eastern washington, and I've been told of anecdotal reports of them in other locations more recently, but it's most likely misidentification, or an escaped pet or something.

For something a little more exotic, either the St. Croix racer Borikenophis sanctaecrucis or Underwood's mussurana Clelia errabunda. Mussurana are bad as snakes to begin with, so having an insular, endemic species would be awesome, and chasing snakes while on vacation in the virgin islands would be nice.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Jeff Lemm » December 5th, 2013, 8:20 am

All of mine were answered in the first few posts. Cool question Chris!

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by justinm » December 5th, 2013, 8:34 am

AndyO'Connor wrote:Closest to home would be long-nosed leopard lizards in Washington state. There are museum records from the 1800s in places that are now populated or agriculture lands of eastern washington, and I've been told of anecdotal reports of them in other locations more recently, but it's most likely misidentification, or an escaped pet or something.

For something a little more exotic, either the St. Croix racer Borikenophis sanctaecrucis or Underwood's mussurana Clelia errabunda. Mussurana are bad as snakes to begin with, so having an insular, endemic species would be awesome, and chasing snakes while on vacation in the virgin islands would be nice.
Andy, last time I was on the Virgin Islands I was young, and the topless beaches and cheap rum took most of my attention. Now that I'm older I would love to herp the Caribbean more thoroughly.

I've thought long and hard about this and I would love to see some of the prehistoric Giant Salamanders, and for mammals I would love to find a Thylacine since they've not been gone for too long now.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Bill Love » December 5th, 2013, 9:02 am

RE: 2) The Mauritius Boa Bolyeria multocarinata, a very unique split-jawed snake that was last seen in 1975, never reared in captivity, and seems truly gone based on intensive surveys.

I had the chance to visit Round Island in early February of 2006. I came away with a distinct impression that Bolyeria might still exist there. My two herping companions and I turned up 3 Casarea under rocks and under palm debris. No sign of the former boa, though. But, if Bolyeria is a burrower as sometimes reported / speculated, my gut feeling is that some might persist in deeper pockets of humus under clusters of palm trees, or in natural, soil-filled depressions in the bedrock. The representative of the Mauritian wildlife department who accompanied me on my explorations on foot was not especially into the herps, and neither were the students stationed there at the time (aside from being aware not to step on Telfair's skinks, which were underfoot EVERYwhere). The entire island was still very denuded at that time because the rabbits and goats had only recently been exterminated, so it was probably too early to judge the likelihood of those other boas still surviving, but I'd be willing to bet that a drift fence trapping survey might show them still there. After mentioning my hunch to the staffers and wildlife officer, I got the impression that the people who have searched since 1975 were NOT seasoned field herpers, and the more focused methods we routinely employ may not have been tried there, thus is why Bolyeria may have been missed. If anyone knows details of intensive surveys that failed to find them that I'm unaware of, please share. Thanks!

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Matt Cage » December 5th, 2013, 10:11 am

Easy one for me, Bufo periglenes, Golden Toad. I missed seeing them by a very short time in the 1980's (they were active just before I visited the site). By the time I got back to spend more time in CR in 1993, they were gone.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by troy hibbitts » December 5th, 2013, 10:13 am

Close to home - Louisiana Pine Snakes at any locality in Texas outside of the current known extant (hopefully!) Texas populations in Angelina, Jasper, and Newton Counties (today, they are basically restricted to a single long sand ridge with managed longleaf pines running through these 3 counties - and there hasn't been one found in several years in those locales). Would be great to find an extant population up in Wood County (for example) or over towards San Jacinto County north of Houston.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Jon Wedow » December 5th, 2013, 12:52 pm

Atelopus chiriquiensis or anything else in this genus

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Roki » December 5th, 2013, 2:02 pm

I like this question too and yes I agree with the Monteverde Golden toad (Bufo periglenes). Such and icon of amphibians we have let slip. Also Atelopus longirostris or hyla calypsa would be awesome to find. Although, I do think that many species that are thought to be extinct are still out there. Hyla calypsa is very possibly just being overlooked. The lack of boots on the ground surveys suggests that we are just missing alot. I find the many recently rediscovered species encouraging.
Roki

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by ThamnElegans24 » December 5th, 2013, 4:34 pm

There is an old report of a second species of salamander in central Arizona. That is something I've been concidering looking for.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Don Cascabel » December 5th, 2013, 8:09 pm

You know... the "Central Arizona" Salamander rumors have been circulating on internet herp forums since I've been on them (circa 1998) and NOONE has ever bothered to look. This would be excusable if we were talking about Oaxaca or something... but with the amount of herpers either living in Arizona or herping there every year it's really kind of unbelievable noone has ever cared to even look into it a little bit. There are three different routes a Plethodontid (which is what the rumor was based on) salamander could have gotten to Arizona... 1st. From California, likely a Bathrachoseps or Aneides, 2nd. from the Rockies... same way Plethodon and Aneides made it to NM, or 3rd, from the Sierra Madre Oriental, same way that Pseudoeurycea belli made it to Sonora. My guess, would be on 2, but I guess any are plausible. So someone dig up the source of the old rumors, focus on an area, and get on it already!!!!

Cheers,

Don Cascabel

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by hellihooks » December 6th, 2013, 8:33 am

I guess this qualifies under 'C'... the 1st Variable Ground Snake documented in the region since Stebbins's 1958 western range extension (actually extended the range by 2 mi)
Image

I consider this my most significant find, not because none had been seen for 50 years, nor for the slight range extension, but rather for the fact that this find led to the amazing canyon it was found in being converted by Ca BLM from Off Roading to Camping only. Sawtooth Canyon had been getting thrashed for decades as a huge party spot and over run by off roading. It is now a nearly pristine camping/herping destination in the Mojave. :) jim

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Don Cascabel » December 6th, 2013, 11:48 am

You think Sonora semiannulata is isolated in the southern Mojave?

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by hellihooks » December 6th, 2013, 12:29 pm

I think there's like 10 records in HERP, in the MNP (eastern SB co) but I believe Stebbins had the western range extension on the 247, 10 mi south of Barstow. I actually know of an undocumented find at Blk Mt Quarry in N. Apple Valley, and suspect they may range as far west as the Mojave River in Victorville. To my knowledge... mine was the only one found in the Barstow area since Stebbins's 1958 find. i know they're common in AZ and a clarus phase was found down by Borrego (by Rockratt) 5 or 6 years ago. jim

edit.. as per 'C' my understanding is that Sonora semiannulata semiannulata was thought to have been extirpated in the Barstow area, and my find proved otherwise....but my goal is to document their occurrence SW to Victorville/Oro Grande ;)

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Ecto Hunter » December 6th, 2013, 3:41 pm

The first thing that came to mind was a Mobile County, AL population of Rana (Lithobates) sevosa.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Jason B » December 6th, 2013, 5:48 pm

In Oaxaca I'd look for Plectrohyla cyanomma and Pseudoeurycea aquatica.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by chrish » December 6th, 2013, 9:16 pm

Don Cascabel wrote:As a response to your comment Chris, the reason that rediscovering animals that are known from only one specimen is very important, is because all to quickly, and all to arbitrarily they end up in the "Extinct" category because some biologist somewhere thinks the fact that it hasn't been found in 30 or 40 years automatically means that it is extinct.
I agree, but you asked what I would rather do. :beer:

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by ThamnElegans24 » December 7th, 2013, 8:06 am

Don,

If I remember correctly the animals in question were found in the 1920's. In a cave near Prescott. Three specimens were collected, but all of them were eaten by birds at the collectors camp.

I fully intend to give them a shot, but I have other goals I want to find first. In the mean time I've asked my rock hunting buddies to keep an eye out while they are specimen hunting in caves and mines.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Joshua Jones » December 7th, 2013, 8:57 am

I think it's funny that AZ still lists the Green racer as an endemic species, with only one found in the last seventy-some-odd years, but those stupid salamanders still don't make the list.

I'd like to look for species that are in new or previously unknown areas. Of course, just finding something that only occurs in one small part of a state could be fun, too. Same for intergrades, hybrids, and morphs. Boa constrictor in AZ would be an interesting start. Add to that an AZ C. o. concolor, C. w. obscurus, or even some of the hybrid crotes to be found down there, and you've got your year's work just about wrapped up.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Josh Holbrook » December 7th, 2013, 4:50 pm

In terms of time invested, a second for the South Florida Rainbow Snake, I've spent about a month of my life looking.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Tim Borski » December 7th, 2013, 7:51 pm

I believe a lot that are presumed extinct aren't. Here's a good example: My wife sent me an email recently that stated "Plestiodon egregious egregious was presumed extinct because it hadn't been seen in 20 years." I'd seen 4 in the last month...they are far from extinct.

]Image


I have another recent example but it is an invert.

Tim

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Coluber Constrictor » December 7th, 2013, 9:33 pm

I've always had a soft spot for Golden Toads. I remember seeing them a lot in nature shows as a kid in the early 90s and was pretty bummed out to hear that they were probably extinct.

An Indigo in Mississippi or an EDB in Louisiana would be pretty cool finds.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by chrish » December 7th, 2013, 10:47 pm

Typhlomolge robusta would be a cool one. It is known from a total of 4 specimens found on a single day in the 1950s (or 60s) by a drilling crew which drilled into an underground spring in central Texas. The drill hole was subsequently sealed and no other specimens have ever been seen. It must live in these underground springs still and they probably surface somewhere....but no one knows where.
Once again, a species we know is probably out there...we just don't know where or how to find it?

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by jonathan » December 8th, 2013, 2:26 am

Chrish stole mine. I've always thought that was an incredibly unique herp find.

I love these threads. Now I want someone to start up individual "likelihood and methods" threads for every one of the serious species.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by will lattea » December 8th, 2013, 11:29 am

Plethodon ainsworthi would be cool

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Josh Holbrook » December 8th, 2013, 3:40 pm

Tim Borski wrote:I believe a lot that are presumed extinct aren't. Here's a good example: My wife sent me an email recently that stated "Plestiodon egregious egregious was presumed extinct because it hadn't been seen in 20 years." I'd seen 4 in the last month...they are far from extinct.

]Image


I have another recent example but it is an invert.

Tim

That's the problem when the biologist who say these things aren't actual herpers.

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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by intermedius » December 9th, 2013, 12:40 pm

Regina septemvittata as well as Virginia valeriae in NJ

Elapsoidea broadleyi
Cercophis auratus
any species from Toxicocalamus
Thamnophis proximus alpinus

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Kelly Mc
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Re: If you were to go rediscover a Herp, which one would it

Post by Kelly Mc » December 9th, 2013, 11:17 pm

Island ecologies have always fascinated me, and evolution of the insular.

The Gallotia complex has been my most intense lizard muse for this reason, but not only. So I would have to say my answer would be Gallotia simonyi simonyi - Roque chico de salmor Giant Lizard.

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