Boyd's Forest Dragon

The Boyd's Forest Dragon Hypsilurus boydii formerly (Gonocephalus) is a true rain forest specialist. In fact it is one of the few reptiles that regulates its body temperature by thermoconforming (using the ambient temperature of the air and surfaces it rests on, rather than by direct exposure to the sun).

This makes sense as closed canopy rain forests, by definition, have limited amounts of direct sunlight available - especially at ground level. That's not to say the lizard is terrestrial. They are usually found resting on the sides of trees - very often small saplings. It's sometimes surprising how well they blend into their environment and on more than one occasion I have watched groups of people wander past them in blissful ignorance ... (click the pics to enlarge)

Reportedly these beautiful dragons attain a T/L of around 500mm. However, these would be large males, with the females being considerably smaller and less, well, chunky

Estimates on the longevity of this lizard vary wildly. From those who suggest a life span of between 5-10yrs to those who claim they may live for 60yrs!. It's probably safer to assume we don't have enough data to say with any certainty eh?.

With dewlap on display

Boyd's forest dragons are generally brown or grey above, with some individuals having a green flush. The body is laterally compressed. They have very enlarged cheek scales, a prominent nuchal crest, and a yellow dewlap under the chin that is edged with enlarged spines. The tympanum is large and superficial. A dorsal crest, discontinuous with the nuchal crest, consisting of enlarged, hardened and pointed scales, runs down to the base of the tail.

For locals this next animal requires no introduction whatsoever. It's basically the icon of the wet tropics (no pressure then ...). I really need to do a post solely dedicated to these remarkable creatures. And I will, but for now a quick, (fact checked) wiki quote will have to do :)

I will though take the time to add that some people have proclaimed that this large (and normally peaceful) bird is the "most dangerous bird in the world". Such idiocy is usually found on 'social media'. Even National Geographic Wild got its ignorance on ...

Considered by whom?. Yes, one human death has been attributed to the Cassowary in Australia. One.

Do a quick search on how many people have been killed by Swans ... I'm all about free speech (unlike UC Berkeley protesters) - but not misinformation.

They're lovely animals, and when treated with the respect they deserve, do not pose any significant risk to you.

The southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) also known as double-wattled cassowary, Australian cassowary or two-wattled cassowary, is a large flightless bird. It is a ratite (a diverse group of large, flightless birds of the infraclass Palaeognathae), and are therefore related to emu, ostrich, Rhea and are closely related to the kiwis, both families diverging from a common ancestor approximately 40 million years ago ^.

As always, it isn't just the 'magnificent' or the iconic that capture my attention. The little things that are so often overlooked are, at least in my opinion - just as noteworthy. And I'd like to say that I know what species this grasshopper is - but I'd be lying. My friend David at Bunyipco probably has some idea ... I really oughta ask the man.

I can at least let you know that our next grasshopper has an I.D - it's a long-faced or vegetable grasshopper Atractomorpha similis. It gets the name vegetable grasshopper as it is sometimes a 'pest' in the garden - (Jo say's pretty much the same thing about me). Us pests have to stick together ...

And now for someting completely different. Fruit. Yes, you read that right - fruit. This is a Rambutan (or hairy lycheee), a tropical fruit and one that goes perfectly with vodka - when ripe it'll be the most glorious red. I spied it as I was wandering around looking for insects, and I thought, Hey that looks fairly interesting all covered in rain drops (I then thought about a Rambutan cocktail and got all distracted and such) ...

We started with a Dragon, so it seems only fitting to end with one too. As you know, I'm a massive dragonfly fan. So much so that Jo got me an authoritative book on the subject: Theischinger, G., and John Hawking. The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia. Collingwood, Vic.: CSIRO, 2006.. And while this may be a sub-species, I think the I.D of Painted Grasshawk Neurothemis stigmatizans is about right.

It's an amazing book. Thanks Jo :)

The Boyd's Forest Dragon is restricted to rainforests and their margins in northern Queensland, Australia, from just north of Townsville to near Cooktown. It is found in both upland and lowland rainforest, and is often seen around Lake Eacham (Yidyam) and Lake Barrine, and in parts of Malanda Falls Conservation Park, at Mossman Gorge and the Daintree region. Wiki

Climate change is going to have a catastrophic effect on the long term biodiversity of the Australian Wet Tropics rain forests, even with a temperature increase of around 2ÂșC. The dragon is at risk because of how it regulates its body temperature, and ninety per cent of its habitat could be unsuitable by 2050. Global Greenhouse Warming

According to the IUCN: This taxon (Hypsilurus boydii) has not yet been assessed for the IUCN Red List, and also is not in the Catalogue of Life.

Who knows what the fate of this remarkable little lizard will be.

Take care. Paul :)