New species of dragon found on Darling Downs
A NEW species of earless dragons has been discovered on the Darling Downs.
A research team led by the Museum of Victoria formally described two species of the creature in grassland across the region.
The newly named T.wilsoni and T.condaminensis are found in diminishing numbers and are difficult to tell apart.
"Our study demonstrates the importance of bringing together taxonomic research with the conservation management of such species," Museum Victoria senior curator Jane Melville said.
"These species, as with many earless dragons, are very difficult to tell apart, despite being very different genetically."
The tiny creatures have garnered much support from the local community, with the Pittsworth Landcare Association raising funding for research and conservation efforts.
One of these new species, T.condaminensis, is already listed as an endangered species of conservation priority in Queensland, but the second is also at risk from dwindling habitats.
"The grasslands around the Darling Downs are subject to both mining and land clearing encroachments," Ms Melville said. That loss of habitat is pushing the dragons into smaller and smaller areas - we found some along roadside verges, trapped on that very narrow strip of land."
Ms Melville said the discovery of an additional species on the Darling Downs highlights how little is known about fauna in these grasslands and the fundamental need for further ecological and genetic research on both species.
"We need to establish broad baseline data, which can be used to develop conservation management strategies," she said.
"There is a real risk of these species becoming extinct before we know anything about them."
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