New Caledonia, off the eastern coast of Australia in the Southern Hemisphere tropics, is comprised of a main island (Grande Terre), the 3 Loyalty Islands, the Isle of Pine, and hundreds of smaller islands.
Grande Terre is about 250 miles (about 400 km) long and about 30 miles (about 50 km) wide at the widest point. The habitat includes mangrove swamps, grasslands, lowland shrub forests, mountain damp forests, mountain dry forests and even moss forests. The highest point on Grande Terre is Mont Panie, which is 5,341 feet (1,628 m) in elevation.
Because they have been isolated from other major land masses for at least 65 million years, most of the organisms — plants, invertebrates (including insects), bats, birds and lizards — in New Caledonia are unique to the region. Many of these species are members of groups known otherwise only from fossils.
On a recent expedition to New Caledonia, Yale Peabody Museum herpetologist Greg Watkins-Colwell and other experts surveyed much of the island of Grande Terre and some of the smaller islands for lizards. The results of the expedition are impressive. At least 2 new genera of lizard and as many as 20 new species were collected and are in the process of being named.
The Yale Peabody Museum’s collections are available to legitimate researchers for scholarly use. Loans are issued to responsible individuals at established institutions. Loans and access to the collection can be arranged through the Collections Manager.
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