Tuesday, November 10, 2009


There was great excitement here today. You may not notice at first without that slightly scary rustle that stops you in your tracks and turns your head.

Take a closer look...

Goanna. This tree was quite close to the house and happily he was still there after the camera dash. The last time I only managed a fast moving tail tip. Not entirely unexpectedly, it was the about the same time of year.

They are arresting in more ways than one and probably the most astounding thing is they just look so ancient, so prehistoric, so big, so incredibly handsome and dare I say, so Australian.

I moved in closer which sent him (or maybe her, not for checking) clambering up the tree, the claws as effective as they looked dangerous.

(Follow that tail down, all the way. It is about twice a long as the rest of it.)

Goannas are reptiles, giant lizards, monitor (as in warning) lizards, arriving in Australia somewhere around the middle of the Miocene period, about 13 million years ago. They are carniverous (live or carrion) predators but also prized by aborigines as food and medicine.

Here are some (segmented) close ups of this one, a Lace monitor, (Varanus varius). It's worth noticing the loose saggy skin of the neck which is puffed up when needed in defence, the beautiful markings, those claws, and the length of that widely striped tail - follow it down.

For all the drama, not everyone was quite so fixated. Sometimes, it is just the little things that matter, and this, this little bit of mutual hypnosis, was what was going on at my feet:

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