Researcher Conrad Hoskin of James Cook University and colleagues made the discoveries on an expedition into Queensland’s remote Cape Melville mountain range on the Cape York Peninsula.
In a region isolated for millions of years, a bizarre-looking leaf-tail gecko was found thriving, along with a gold-colored skink and a boulder-dwelling frog that had never before been seen by scientists.
“Finding three new, obviously distinct vertebrates would be surprising enough in somewhere poorly explored like New Guinea, let alone in Australia, a country we think we’ve explored pretty well,” Hoskin told reporters.
The new species were found in an area where untold millions of huge boulders cover the landscape, making their habitat almost impenetrable to humans and outside predators.
Hoskin and his team found that the three new species hide in the rocky rain forest, with the gecko coming out of its hiding places only at night to hunt on rocks and trees.
The newly named Cape Melville Shade Skink is active during the day, chasing insects across the moss-covered boulders.
And the frog only comes out to breed during the wet season.
Hoskin and his team, who flew into the area by helicopter, plan to return within a few months with hopes of finding new species like snails, spiders and small mammals.
Photos: James Cook University