01 September, 2008

Wildlife On the Rocks, Granite Gorge

Granite Gorge is located outside the north Queensland town of Mareeba on the Atherton Tablelands. It is best known for its Mareeba Rock Wallabies which have become habituated on the hand outs they receive from tourists. This male was spotted sitting under the rock shown below. Can you see him in the second picture?

The gorge consists of huge granite boulders smoothed by millennia of water but on this excursion the Tablelands Frog Club spent its time mostly on the slopes surrounding the gorge looking for lizards.

Still cannot see the wallaby? Here is a closer view.

Under the rocks was where we were looking but the first thing I found was a case moth. It felt firm enough for something to be in the case but not as firm as to be a healthy pupa. On investigation this proved to be correct. Look at some the maggots which came out of the pupal case which was inside the structure of leaf pieces and silk built by the larva.

Not only do the animals which live on these rocks hide under them but they are camouflaged as well. This is a Zigzag Velvet Gecko, Oedura rhombifer.

And here he is in profile. Zigzag Velvet Gecko, Oedura rhombifer

This little fellow may be Nactus cheverti, but herps are not my long suit.

Skinks are often diurnal but there are nocturnal and crepuscular species as well. Carlia mundivensis (below) is a crepuscular species. That is it is most active at dawn and dusk.

Carlia schmeltzii turned up under a piece of old iron.

Tommy Roundhead Dragon and Two-lined Dragons are very similar, both have two lines along their backs and another on their flanks and both occur here. The fold on the throat gives this one away as Diporiphora australis, the Tommy Roundhead.

Back to insects now and this wonderful grasshopper is well camouflaged for its rock home.

Preying mantids are well known for their disguise but these two were on the same branch. It is likely that they emerged, some weeks before, from the ootheca or egg case shown in the second picture. You will be able to tell from the comments below that I originally posted these as stick insects. Thanks to the reader who pointed out my mistake. Mantids are carnivores with large well spaced eyes while phasmids (stick and leaf insects) are herbivores with tiny jaws and eyes close together on the front of the head. Mantids produce these oothecae with many eggs surrounded by a hard and a foamy casing. Phasmids on the other hand just pop out their eggs in a random manner. Some will emerge immediately and others will take some time; up to two years I have read.


Anonymous said...

I believe your photo is of a praying mantis (and another of its egg case) NOT a stick insect. We have both mantids and stick insects here in Merimbula so I am quite familiar with them.

Alan Gillanders said...

You are right. They are indeed preying mantids; not sure what I was doing there.

Mosura said...

Looks like a fascinating and productive spot to explore.

Hope you don't mind that I've added you to my list of 'Australian Nature Blogs' on my blog.

Stewart Macdonald said...

Hi Alan,

Your possible Nactus cheverti is probably Heteronotia binoei.


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