Egernia major

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Egernia major
Egernia major Watagans National Park.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia (paraphyletic)
(unranked): Sauria
Order: Squamata (paraphyletic)
Infraorder: Scincomorpha
Family: Scincidae
Subfamily: Lygosominae
Genus: Egernia
Species: E. major
Binomial name
Egernia major
(Gray, 1845)
Synonyms

Tropidolepisma major Gray, 1845

Egernia major, also known as Land Mullet are lizards, they are some of the largest members of the skink family (Scincidae).They can be easily confused with the related Egernia frerei, the Major Skink.[verification needed]

Description[edit]

The species may reach total lengths of up to 60 cm (23.6 inches). They are uniform glossy black to brown, with a paler ring around the eye. Their colour, along with their large size, allow them to maintain a body temperature of 30 degrees Celsius; they spend much of the day basking in the sun.[1] Adult males have slightly shorter bodies but slightly longer forelimbs and heads than adult females [2] The ventral side (belly) ranges in colouration from auburn (orange-brown) to white [3] Juveniles have prominent cream lateral spots[4]

Egernia major is long-lived - with one captive female lizard known to have lived for at least 23 years [2]

The unusual name comes from the pungent, fishy odour emitted when threatened.[verification needed] The common name "Land Mullet" is said to date back to Longman (1918), who reported it to be in common usage for the species around Tambourine Mountain. The name probably alludes to the superficial resemblance to the homonymous fish, which has a similarly blunt head, large scales and is of similar size and coloration.[5]

Habitat and Distribution[edit]

Native to Australia, they are generally restricted to the rainforest of south-eastern Australia.[1] The range of natural distribution is in discontinuous locations from the northern side of the Hawkesbury River in the south, to the Conondale Range, near Maleny in south eastern Queensland.[6] They occur at altitudes from sea level (Park Beach, New South Wales) to 840 m (Acacia Plateau, Queensland)[7]

The species favours habitat with many fallen logs, and it remains in close proximity to these. The restricted sunlight of the forest type require a number of basking sites to be available. It is less frequently found in other types of environs, such as the open eucalypt woodland of the region.[1]

The lizards shelter in hollow logs or burrows. Often these are dug in to the soil-bound root systems of fallen trees.[4]

Behaviour[edit]

Land Mullets are normally reported to be very shy, dashing noisily to the cover of dense low vegetation if disturbed. However, in some popular National Parks, the lizards have become habituated - scavenging close to humans for scraps at picnic and camping sites.[4]

Reproduction[edit]

Land Mullets are live-bearing reptiles which usually reproduce roughly 4 to 9 independent offspring per litter. Largely solitary, they primarily associate only when it is time to mate.[3]

Diet[edit]

The land mullet eats woody fungi, mushrooms, berries, seeds, insects such as beetles and grasshoppers as well as decaying fruit material[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Klingenböck, A.; K. Osterwalder and R. Shine (December 22, 2000). "Habitat Use and Thermal Biology of the "Land Mullet" Egernia major, a Large Scincid Lizard from Remnant Rain Forest in Southeastern Australia". Copeia (American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists) 2000 (4): 931–939. doi:10.1643/0045-8511(2000)000[0931:huatbo]2.0.co;2. JSTOR 1448004. 
  2. ^ a b cited in Shea, 2006 Morphology and natural history of the Land Mullet (Squamata: Scincidae) Australian Zoologist 31 (2), December 1999. Accessible at http://www.rzsnsw.org.au/Volumes%20of%20RZS%20papers/1999%20vol%2031(2)/Shea%20G%20M%20Morphology%20and%20natural%20history%20of%20the%20Land%20Mullet%20Egernia%20major%20(Squamata%20Scincidae).pdf Accessed 14 April 2014
  3. ^ a b Egernia Major (Land Mullet), 2001 Queensland Term Wildlife Field Guide. Vince King, Hobart College, 2002. Accessible at: http://people.hws.edu/fieldguide/show.asp?ID=105 Accessed 18 April 2014
  4. ^ a b c Steve Wilson (2005) A Field Guide to Reptiles of Queensland. Australia: New Holland Publishers. ISBN 1 876334 97 5
  5. ^ cited in Shea, Morphology and natural history of the Land Mullet (Squamata: Scincidae) Australian Zoologist 31 (2), December 1999. Accessible at http://www.rzsnsw.org.au/Volumes%20of%20RZS%20papers/1999%20vol%2031(2)/Shea%20G%20M%20Morphology%20and%20natural%20history%20of%20the%20Land%20Mullet%20Egernia%20major%20(Squamata%20Scincidae).pdf Accessed 14 April 2014
  6. ^ * A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia - Steve Wilson & Gerry Swan ISBN 1-876334-72-X page 206
  7. ^ a b Shea, 2006 Morphology and natural history of the Land Mullet (Squamata: Scincidae) Australian Zoologist 31 (2), December 1999. Accessible at http://www.rzsnsw.org.au/Volumes%20of%20RZS%20papers/1999%20vol%2031(2)/Shea%20G%20M%20Morphology%20and%20natural%20history%20of%20the%20Land%20Mullet%20Egernia%20major%20(Squamata%20Scincidae).pdf Accessed 14 April 2014

External links[edit]