Friday, January 18, 2008

Vedo un ablefaro!

A version of this picture could be an avatar for this blog --a rock and a lizard drawn on a piece of paper. The picture was taken from an early 2oth century Italian natural history book, I'm guessing (literally taken from, as in cut out with scissors; faintly through the image the text on the backing page is almost legible) --rotten thing to do to a book. Nevertheless, the image was matted and framed, and ended up in an antiquarian book store. A friend gave it to me when I was studying skinks so I could have some skink art in my office.

The caption says, "Ablefaro (Ablepharus pannonicus). Grandezza naturale. "

I like that in Italian the skink has a name other than "something skink." The English common name is "Asian snake-eyed skink," less elegant than Ablefaro, which means "lacking eyelids," hence snake-eyed, for snakes have no eyelids, whereas most lizards do.

Where to go to find an Ablefaro? The Caucasus Mountains and the Middle East. They come out at dusk to forage for arthropods and other small invertebrates. A rarely-seen, poorly-known species to add to our collective world view. How nice that long ago someone thought to draw one.


pookie said...

His footies seem so small in comparison to his bod. How do such little thangs manage to move him along fast enough to avoid predators?

A Local Naturalist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Local Naturalist said...


They are remarkably hard to catch. They wriggle along like a fish, very fast, and there is a randomness to their movement. A predator has to aim where it thinks the skink will be, not where it is. More in next post.