According to the U.S. Geological Survey the copper striped blue-tailed skink has gone extinct in the Hawaiian Islands. It used to be found throughout Hawaii, but factors such as human development and invasive species, which are a common culprit in other island extinctions as well, are believed to have killed them off completely.
Small lizards such as the blue-tailed skink are prone to cryptic extinction – meaning they are confused with other species, so little is known about them and very few people even notice they are gone.
“The extinction of native Hawaiian bird species is well documented, partly because their presence and sounds had been so distinctive to humans. But without regular field surveys, we tend to overlook the disappearances of smaller, secretive species, along with the causes of their extinction,” said a French national researcher. (Source: USGS)
If the precise causes of the skink’s extinction are not known, are more extinctions of other small animals in the Hawaiian islands coming? A research paper focused on the skinks notes a widespread downward trend: “This decline appears contemporaneous with the documented declines of invertebrates and birds across the Hawaiian Islands.”
The only good news in this story is that the same skink species is still alive on some other Pacific Islands, but is anyone paying attention to those habitats to see if the same negative trends are causing declines?
Because so many elements of nature are connected to each other, this lizard’s story isn’t just about one species. Loss of habitat and invasive species destruction are taking place all over the world. No wonder there are cryptic extinctions, but sites like Care2 can make a difference, and you can too, by posting the link on Facebook or Twitter.
Image Credit: USGS