Thursday, October 31, 2013

Australian Scientists Explore Lost World For First Time

A team of Australian researchers have quite literally gone where no man has gone before. Scientists from James Cook University recently crossed into a region called Cape Melville, which is completely cut off from the outside world by millions of large boulders that make passage into the remote mountain range nearly impossible. The team of four used a helicopter to gain access however and what they found inside was quite amazing.

Once inside the cape, the team determined that the entire region, which is encircled by impenetrable mountains, is 9 miles (14 km) long and roughly 3 miles (5 km) across. The region contains remnants of a rainforest left over from Gondwana, a reference to an ancient super-continent that existed millions of years ago. They also discovered a variety of new species as well, including three very unique reptiles. Those species included a new frog that lives under boulders and is capable of hatching its eggs without water and a skink that hunts insects by leaping from rock to rock. A third species was the most impressive however, an odd looking gecko that is unlike anything anyone had seen before.

The initial expedition to explore Cape Melville lasted just four days with the team seeing less than a tenth of the area contained there. The group is already planning a return trip to plumb further into the depths of the region to see what else they can find. The team believes that considering what they discovered in just a preliminary scouting mission, they could find some really unique species of birds, plants and even mammals once they really get the opportunity to check out the forests there. Considering that the Cape has been evolving on its own, almost completely cut off from the rest of the world for millennia, there could be some very unique creatures just waiting to be discovered.

These store always fascinate me. I love that our world is so vast that we still don't have regions to explore, even in the age of satellite mapping, GPS navigation and instant communications. It must have been a humbling experience for these scientists to become the first humans to step into this lost world and lay eyes on the wonders there for the first time. What an amazing world we live in.

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