A climatic collision on the north-west slopes of New South Wales may have created a unique species of colour-changing scalyback skinks.

Story By Mandy McKeesick

He calls them “the rugby players of the lizard world”. Photographer, poet and wildlife expert Alex Dudley has studied the stout scalyback skinks around his home in the small village of Coolatai on the north-west slopes of New South Wales, and believes that they may be a unique species. “The scalybacks here really are unique,” Alex says passionately. “They are generally olive-brown but I have observed them change colour. For example they turn darker when it becomes colder, and this is not described in any literature on skinks.”
Alex believes the climatic collision on the north-west slopes of northern New South Wales – a potpourri of different bioregions, vegetation and wildlife – has harboured these unusual skinks. “For a start they look different – they have a shorter, fatter tail and are more heavily built than documented Cunningham’s and, although they have similar spots, their markings are more subtle,” Alex says. “Another unusual feature is they are occasional tree-dwellers, choosing warmer spots for their winter abode.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #91

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2013