Chien C. Lee, Wild Borneo Photography, via Wikimedia Commons
Hey kids, welcome back to our series on the mysteries of created kinds.
This week, we leave the seas behind and move inland to the large southeast Asian island of Borneo. Instead of big, winged birds, we are looking for some earless lizards.
This week’s kind is incredibly cryptic, with specimens of the single species only showing up periodically. After its discovery, it was nearly another 100 years before it was seen again, and a further thirty after that before the next specimens were found.1 This kind hides in remote creeks and along the banks in leaf litter and other debris.2 They like to submerge themselves in the water with their eyes covered with a goggle-like transparent eyelid they use to see while still protecting their eyes.3 Their diet is unknown in the wild, but they readily take frog meat and live frogs in captivity, indicating they likely feed on them in their natural stream habitats as well.4
Despite the paucity of information on this kind, there are already several disputes about its rarity and its potential toxicity. Due to salivary secretions, this lizard had been thought venomous. However, recent studies do not support this argument.5 There is also a difference of opinion over just how rare this species is. In interviews conducted on four different groups of Indonesian residents, the majority in two groups considered it common, while the other two groups considered it rare.6
Has anyone figured it out yet? Given the little information that exists on this kind, I would not be surprised if no one did. This week’s kind is the Lanthanotidae—the earless monitor kind. Stay with us for next week when we fly across the world to Central and South America, looking for birds that get their name from their love of insect meals.
Try out this fun crossword puzzle!
Here is your clue for next week:
This kind mates for life and takes its name from a species habit of following swarms of army ants.
Have you ever had a question about created kinds but didn’t know who to ask? Have you ever wanted to learn more about your favorite kind? Well, now you can! You can ask me, Inspector Barry Mins, a question! Have your parents help you fill out this form, and you might get your question answered in my column! If you have any questions about created kinds, feel free to send them my way!