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Earless dragon considered 'extinct' for 50 years has been spotted in a secret location

The Victorian grassland earless dragon was last spotted in 1969 and has now been found at an undisclosed location to help preservation efforts.

Earless dragon considered 'extinct' for 50 years has been spotted in a secret location
Cover Image Source: YouTube | 7NEWS Australia

An "extinct" reptile has slithered back into sight after nearly half a century! A Victorian grassland earless dragon was last spotted in 1969 and has now been found at an undisclosed location to help preservation efforts. The animal was once common west of Melbourne, but due to habitat loss and predators such as feral cats, scientists witnessed their numbers dwindle to near extinction. The Victorian grassland earless dragon, "Tympanocryptis pinguicolla," has now been rediscovered in the state, according to a joint statement issued by the Victorian and federal Labor governments, reports The Guardian.



 

The state and federal governments are putting together $188,000 for an expedition to assess the current population using sniffing dogs to locate them. It will be an "effective and non-invasive way to find this highly cryptic and critically endangered lizard in the wild," according to Tanya Plibersek, the federal environment minister.

Plibersek added in a statement, "I want to protect our precious creatures for our kids and grandkids. It's such exciting news that the Victorian grassland earless dragon has been rediscovered. It's a reminder about why it's so important to invest in habitat restoration and the eradication of feral species like cats and foxes."



 

Many experts have set out to look for this elusive creature in the past years but have failed to find them. The tiny animal is just 15 centimeters and 6 inches long. The reptile has no external ear opening or eardrum, hence the name "earless." Zoos Victoria, a coalition of zoos in Victoria state that runs many conservation programs, took up the search in 2017.

Now they are setting up a conservation breeding program for the lizard. Dr. Jenny Gray, Zoos Victoria's chief executive, said in a statement, "The extraordinary rediscovery of this critically endangered and cryptic lizard inspires optimism for the recovery of this Victorian species, and Zoos Victoria is proud to be lending years of expertise honed through the breeding recovery program at Melbourne Zoo for Canberra dragons."



 

According to Yahoo News, the Victorian grassland earless dragon was considered critically endangered. The Department of Environment confirmed four species of Australian lizards were added to Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act threatened species list on June 1. Now, experts weighed in on the exciting discovery. 



 

Biologist Dr. Marissa Parrott tweeted, "Story of the year! Rediscovered & the focus of a huge effort, the tiny Victorian grassland earless dragon may be the world's most endangered lizard. I'm proud to be playing a part with our awesome team at @ZoosVictoria." Biodiversity Council shared on Twitter, "The fate of the tiny dragon and many other unique species depends on us taking action to protect remaining grassland patches."

Stacey Phillips added, "The discovery of the Victorian grassland earless dragon after more than 50 years since its last sighting highlights the importance of investing money into habitat restoration and the eradication of feral species such as cats and foxes. Exciting times!" It looks like the race is on to save the critically endangered Victorian grassland earless dragon!



 

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