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Skink

Giant Tongan Skink is an unknown lizard reportedly living in wooded forests of Tongatapu Island, Tonga.

Description

The lizard had a total length of approximately 18 inches. The creature had a diameter of 1–1.5 inches. It had a dull green appearance, with blackish markings.

It has been known to run swiftly.

The Sightings

Lannon Oldenburg saw a lizard about 18 inches long running across the ground in a plantation near Tupou College. It was dull green with black markings and lacked a middorsal ridge.

Peter Chignell observed a large lizard in an isolated stand of forest near an ancient burial mound during a burn-off of some scrubland. It was about 1.4 inches in diameter.

John R. H. Gibbons conducted an extensive search for skinks in the remaining stand of forest on Tongatapu in 1985. No unknown species were found. Deforestation and the introduction of cats and rats have made it difficult for any large lizards to survive on Tongatapu. Neighboring Eua’ Island holds more promise.

Possible Explanations

  • A Giant skink (Tachygyia microlepis), known only from two specimens probably collected from Tongatapu Island in 1827 by J. R. C. Quoy and J. P. Guimard, was over 12 inches long. However, its coloration was dark brown, with no markings. Also, this species probably crawled rather than ran.
  • An unnamed, olive-brown skink (Emoia trossula) found in Tonga and Fiji is more likely, though it rarely exceeds 6 inches in length.

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