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 Post subject: Borneo Dispatches #4: The Unknown Critters Of Gunung Gading
PostPosted: August 12th, 2011, 7:36 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Gunung Gading National Park ist most famous for its (one) rafflesia (R. arnoldii, I think), biggest flower in the world and all that jazz. It's an erratic bloomer, to say the least, and we missed the last flowering by six weeks. But here's a nice sign.

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We didn't do the entire trail to the 2000-foot summit, just ambled along the many waterfalls in water-frolicking and picnicking mode. We had brought chicken franks (this is Malaysia, after all - pork is only sold in specialty stores) and baseball mustard, which we enjoyed in settings like this:

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As I waited downstream for the kids to finish their waterfall abuse ("this is such a cool slide, Dad!"), I spotted a tiny lizard jumping into the water on the far side of the creek and swim towards me, using his tail for propulsion much like a fish/snake/water monitor would. It looked like a skink, but the skinks I know from Taiwan have as much love for water as a housecat, so at first I thought "salamander". Then again, we were in the Bornean lowlands, and I doubt any salamander is hardy enough to live through this heat. When the lizard reached my side, I scooped it up and examined it. Lo and behold - a mini-skink, and what a beautiful one at that! I tried to ID it with Das' "Lizards of Borneo", but failed. I guess the orange tail is some kind of juvenile feature? Anyone to the rescue?

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Back on the main trail. (That IS the trail, in case you were wondering)

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Trek-on-rails
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Here I became living proof for the maxim that fat people find more herps. They need to take frequent breathers-cum-forehead moppers, and it was on just such a break that discovered this truly spectacular, foot-long saurian sitting on a broken sapling not two yards away from the trail. It had such confidence in its camouflage that it let the six of us examine and photograph it from point-blank range for a good half hour...and it was still stitting theer when we came back down the trail later that afternoon. Again, "Lizards of Borneo" didn't help, because it only shows one photo per species. Proper ID, anyone?

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Another joy for our tropifauna-thirsty souls: the fringed, seven-inch wieners crawling all over the trails. Any IDs?
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These ones looked like the juvenile version of one of the firefly species we know from Taiwan. Only, they were four inches long. Are they millipedes, after all?

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This was our first encounter ever with a wild scorpion. The kids found it dead under a roast-chicken vendor's stall. At about six inches, eyes to stinger, quite a mighty animal, it was. (ID?)
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And, lastly, the usual warning against extended jungle walks. If the heat won't get you, the brain-burrowing bugs will....

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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #4: The Unknown Critters Of Gunung Gad
PostPosted: August 12th, 2011, 8:31 pm 
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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Posts: 561
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
Another amazing place. I feel like I’m there, almost. I wish I were there, for sure.

My best guess for the skink is that it’s Tropidophorus, since these are known as “water skinks” and are semi-aquatic. But which Tropidophorus? Who the heck knows.

Your unbelievable orange lizard looks like Gonocephalus doriae to me. Das’s pocket guide doesn’t mention bright orange as a possibility, but there’s a photo almost-but-not-quite as orange as yours in Manthey & Grossmann’s “Amphibien & Reptilien Südostasiens”, and it looks very similar to yours. There’s also an orange one that looks just a little less like yours pictured on http://www.schlangenforum.ch/wbb2/thread.php?postid=221866 (fourth picture down).

Did you get to see the big flower’s plant, even if it wasn’t actually flowering? Or is that just lame?

Thanks for another wonderful post!

John


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #4: The Unknown Critters Of Gunung Gad
PostPosted: August 12th, 2011, 11:30 pm 
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Joined: June 16th, 2010, 12:26 pm
Posts: 561
Hello Hans,

Another great post. What a wonderful new home! I am looking forward to your posts from Sarawak. By the way, many of the butterflies that I posted from Fraser's Hill live in Borneo so you may see some of these. I will also have posts with lots of butterflies from Taman Negara and the Maliau Basin (Sabah).

Those were millipedes. The pink one was really amazing. They can be quite large in Malaysia. I especially enjoy seeing the "pill" millipedes that roll into a ball the size of a golf ball. Have you come across those yet?


Regards,
David


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #4: The Unknown Critters Of Gunung Gad
PostPosted: August 13th, 2011, 3:53 am 
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Joined: October 28th, 2010, 4:34 am
Posts: 135
Location: based in UK
Hey Hans

Great post, I never made it out to Gunung Gading, would love to. I agree The Agamid looks like Gonocephalus doriae, no idea of the skink.

This book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Amphibians-Rept ... 283&sr=8-2 is well worth the investment if you dont have it already, there are some pretty good keys, which although obviously more applicable in Sabah are still of use in other parts of Borneo.

Looking forward to your future posts.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #4: The Unknown Critters Of Gunung Gad
PostPosted: August 14th, 2011, 8:20 am 
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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 6:17 am
Posts: 351
um hell yeah this post rocked. red millipedes = LOVES IT


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #4: The Unknown Critters Of Gunung Gad
PostPosted: August 14th, 2011, 4:40 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks very much, guys!

I did a little extra homework based on your helpful comments, and now we're getting closer to the truths:

1. The scorpion is, I believe, Heterometrus longimanus, aka Asian Forest Scorpion, and one of the largest scorpions on the planet. Just our luck to run into one of those :-)

2. The ancient-looking, heavily segmented grey thing is a so-called "tractor millipede" of the genus Barydesmus. I haven't seen any golfballpedes so far, but they might be nocturnal. (Still haven't found a good place for nightwalking, but a friend will take me on Thursday)

3. I've posted an inquiry about the ID of the other 'pedes on a German millipede enthusiast forum (yes, us Germans grow the craziest things - snakes, carnivorous plants, millipedes...) and will hopefully be back shortly with an answer.

4. As to the lizards, I've sent a mail to the author of "Lizards of Borneo" and will announce the result here later. That book claims G. doriae to be a "rare lizard from Kalimantan' (the Indonesian side of Borneo) - could we really have been so lucky to find a lizard that's rare and also never been documented in Sarawak?

I don't know what's more fun: the jungle walks or the homework later...


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #4: The Unknown Critters Of Gunung Gad
PostPosted: August 14th, 2011, 6:24 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:30 am
Posts: 653
Location: Clifton, Arizona
Cool post Hans!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #4: The Unknown Critters Of Gunung Gad
PostPosted: August 15th, 2011, 12:44 am 

Joined: August 28th, 2010, 2:15 pm
Posts: 52
Great stuff Hans,
That is indeed a Gonocephalus doriae. Here is one of a different color scheme from Sabah
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If this is what you mean by "golfballpede" then they can be found during the day and can be pretty common
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I have no idea on the skink. It looks like it has smooth scales so if it is a Tropidophorus then it would be T. beccarri. I would guess that it is a Eutropis/Mabuya

Cheers

EW


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #4: The Unknown Critters Of Gunung Gad
PostPosted: August 15th, 2011, 2:46 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks, all!

Quote:
a different color scheme from Sabah

You make me want to cry now. How in the Green Hell am I supposed to identify anything around these parts if they just change colors willy-nilly? By COUNTING SCALES??? Grahh...

Thanks also for the tip on the golfballpedes. We marched three hours through the forest again today (at Matang) and didn't see any. In fact, we didn't see anything at all, but leeches (whose mouths my wife, inexplicably, finds cute !) and insects....and a Gasteracantha arcuata which almost made me crap my pants in joy. Pix later in a separate post :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #4: The Unknown Critters Of Gunung Gad
PostPosted: August 24th, 2011, 12:39 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Alright, I got the IDs now, courtesy of Professor Indraneil Das, my friendly neighborhood herp guru (in the literal sense of the word).

- the skink is a juvenile Lygosoma bowringii

- the agamid is a Gonocephalus doriae. It's also found in Sarawak; Neil's book errs there (his words, not mine :-) )

More lizzerdz to come soon....


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #4: The Unknown Critters Of Gunung Gad
PostPosted: August 24th, 2011, 1:38 am 

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 1:17 am
Posts: 136
Hi Hans,

sorry for the late reply. I indeed thought the skink to be a lygosoma, but was not quite sure of the exact species. Bowringgi is probably the most common species, and is as far as im concerned the only lygosoma that occurs here in singapore. Never realized that the juvies had such a nice colour to them. The lizard is awesome, great colours!

- David G


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #4: The Unknown Critters Of Gunung Gad
PostPosted: August 24th, 2011, 2:01 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks very much, David!

Did you ever receive my PM re: our Singapore trip?

Cheers

Hans


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