And Whatever You Do, Don’t Look Him Straight In The Eyes!

So, this animal certainly falls in the category of animals strange enough that you believe they’re a product of tall tales and photoshop. Although, in some sense, I suspect some photos of this animal could have some “enhancement” in order to make them a bit creepier. At least, it helps me sleep more soundly at night…

So the focus of my ramble? The satanic leaf-tailed gecko:

satanic leaf-tailed gecko

So, as you can probably tell, this is yet another example of an organism who really knows what it means to master the art of camouflage. Also, I didn’t find much on the origins of it’s common name (it’s scientific name is Uroplatus phantasticus, and it’s also at times commonly called the eyelash or fantastic leaf-tailed gecko), but my guess it’s it has a whole lot to do with this:

gecko mouth open

Some of the most striking pictures of this little freak of nature can be found on Nick Garbutt’s photography site, specifically his photo album from Madagascar.

So yes, this strange lump of leaves hails from Madagascar, a place that I’ve wanted to visit since I was about 11. Madagascar sits off the southeast coast of Africa and hosts some of the most intriguing species of organisms in the world. It is often referred to as the eight continent (or the 7th, little did I know that there are several models concerning how the continents are defined and so it’s yet another supposedly steadfast fact I am now uncertain about). According to a press release on the KEW Garden’s website:

“Madagascar is home to more than 10,000 plant species and 90% of Madagascar’s plants occur nowhere else in the world.”

Island ecology is always interesting because the isolation of an island can allow organisms to evolve independently of those occurring on more connected bodies of land (see this great web article for a more in-depth discussion about evolution on Madagascar).  But Madagascar seems to have a stranger assortment of animals than most, including this little guy, the streaked tenrec:

streaked tenrec

While  new species are still being discovered on a regular basis, they are fast threatened by activities of people living on the island along with the increase of tourism.

I was going to suggest that you visit the Madagascar Wildlife Conservation website, but their home page misspells Madagascar as “Madagaskar”; and unless that is an alternate spelling, the jury is out! They do however host what seems to be an interesting peer-reviewed journal.  You might also check out the website for Madagascar Biodiversity and Conservation, and wildmadagascar.org

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