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Extinct Giant Shingleback Skink Species Discovered In Australia

Tiliqua frangens was 1000 times bigger than the Australian common garden skin.

Tiliqua frangens roamed Australia during the Pleistocene, which is about 2 million years ago.

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Flinders University researchers in Australia have discovered an extinct shingleback skink species that was rabout the size of a human arm and covered in spiny thick armor. The skink, Tiliqua frangens, is directly related to the modern day shingleback skinks of Australia, which are known as stump-tailed skink, bobtail, sleepy lizards, among other nicknames.

According to a news release put out by the government of Western Australia and the Western Ausrtralian Museum, Tiliqua frangens roamed Australia during the Pleistocene, which is about 2 million years ago. They went extinct 47,000 years ago. The lizard had a unique and chunky profile, according to Dr Kailah Thorn, WA Museum Technical Officer for Terrestrial Vertebrates.

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“Frangens was 1000 times bigger than the Australian common garden skink and reveals that even small creatures were supersized during the Pleistocene,” Thorn said in a statement released by the museum. “Deciphering how Pleistocene animals adapted, migrated, or what eventually caused their extinctions might help us conserve today’s fauna, which faces pressures such as changing climate and habitat destruction.”

Bones of Tiliqua frangens were unearthed from excavations at Wellington Caves in New South Wales and assembled by a team of researchers with Flinders University and the South Australian Museum.

“These large, slow armoured lizards might have filled the ecological niche of small land tortoises, absent from modern Australia,” Prof. Michael Lee, researcher co author and evolutionary biologist at Flinders University and South Australian Museum said in the statement. He said the extinction of Tiliqua frangens occurred at the same time as the extinction of megafauna and believes the extinctions at the end of the Pleistocene were so extensive that they affected smaller creatures.

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An abstract of the study “ A giant armoured skink from Australia expands lizard morphospace and the scope of the Pleistocene extinctions” can be read on the Proceedings of the Royal Society B website.