Monday, March 26, 2012

The Skinks Are Out Early This Year

There is often news about the sort of paleontological and zoological topics that I find interesting.

To cite a recent example, paleoanthropologists have announced the discovery of the Red Deer Cave People, a potential new species of hominid that lived in China only about 12,000 years ago.

Or, to cite another recent example, an entirely new species of Leopard Frog has been found living in the vicinity of New York City.

Sometimes I think that I should blog about these topics. But if I did, I wouldn't have anything new to add; I would only be repeating what could be read elsewhere.

Now I do have something original to say, on a zoological topic that I've discussed before, the Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus, formerly known as Eumeces fasciatus). The unseasonably warm weather in northern Virginia over the past two weeks has brought the skinks out of hibernation at an abnormally early date. On Thursday, March 22, I saw Five-lined Skinks out and about at two localities, Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax County, and the African American Heritage Park in Alexandria. (The skink pictured here was at Huntley Meadows.) This is a good month before I normally first observe their spring activity.

But due to the near-freezing temperatures predicted for Monday night, the skinks will have to go back to hiding under rocks and inside logs.

I sometimes wish that I could hide under rocks and inside logs.

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