6 February 2012 1 of 2




Our final field day was completed but not our final day in Timor-Leste. The morning and early afternoon of the 6th were taken up with final photography and preparation of specimens, personal packing and sorting and packing of field kit for storage in the shipping container at the Timor Lodge Hotel, pending Phase VII in June 2012.

The laboratory side of things produced a few interesting surprises. Several of the skinks from the Meleotegi were found to have parasite burdens and these were excised, photographed and preserved for later identification. The ectoparasites are usually ticks and several skinks (Carlia and Eremiascincus) were found to be carrying them in places where they could not easily be dislodged by the lizard itself, such as the axil of the arm. So common is this form of parasitic relationship that many lizards even possess armpits into which the ticks secrete themselves, thereby reducing the abrasion to the lizard's scales by continual rubbing against the parasite when running. Other ticks were less discerning, being found buried head-first under ventral scales and gorged with lizard blood.

The other parasites found were more interesting endoparasites. Once four-fingered skink (Carlia) had a curious protrusion in its flank and when investigated this 'bump' was caused not by broken ribs but by two large and still living nematode roundworms, each longer than the lizard itself. Whether these worms had found themselves in the wrong host or whether they were relying on their host being devoured by some other species so that they might continue their parasitic lifestyle is uncertain, but either way the parasites ended up being fixed for the attention of a nematode parasitologist.

All these critters were interesting subjects to be recorded with the Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens.


Ectoparasitic tick (Acari) on Four-fingered skink Carlia sp.
Endoparasitic roundworm (Nematoda) in Four-fingered skink Carlia sp.


Click next page below for page 2