Saturday, 19 April 2014

On nieces, David Attenborough and lizards I have seen

Due to my brother-in-law Mark's love of David Attenborough nature documentaries, my youngest nieces have a distinct affection for "Aboa's" (i.e. said documentaries on DVD) before bedtime. This in turn has led me to watch more of them than I might have to the point that I went out and bought the "Life in cold blood" series on DVD. The thing about most of the species in these series is that they are usually some incredibly rare species that I am never going to see outside of a museum or which live in some impossibly remote corner of the world. Not "ordinary" places such as Montreal or Sioux Lookout or Broken Hill, NSW...

...or not as the case may be.  It turns out that one of the episodes spent a fair bit of time on a lizard species that I have seen in the wild near Broken Hill, NSW.  On the day I rode out to Silverton from Broken Hill, I wrote about seeing a large-ish scaly lizard that I believed was a Tiliqua rugosa asper. This self same lizard species was the one that David Attenborough found so amazing that he devoted to it both a significant portion of one episode on as well as most of the "making-of" segment.  It turns out that these lizards are really quite remarkable. They are more or less monogamous. They are also viviparous, producing 1-4 young which can add up to about a third of mother's body weight which must be bloody hard on the poor females. No word on whether the male helps out by seeking out any particular dainty that the female might wish. ;-)
The thing is, after decades of watching nature documentaries, this was the first time that I had seen the animal in the flesh and in the wild before I had seen the documentary and it wasn't an animal that was, well, "boring", such as seagulls, white-tailed deer, skunks, squirrels,  raccoons, or moose.  You know, "ordinary" animals. Of course, I am saying this from a North American perspective. Doubtless, an Aussie or a Kiwi might think a skunk or a raccoons would be quite exotic, the same way that that Geoff, a Kiwi acquaintance, once asked me what it was like to live in a country with a land border!

(I.e. something that is hard to define.  My response was that it can demonstrate how the landscape you see is partially a human construct as when you cross the border from Quebec into Vermont the land looks very different (and I am not just talking about the roads.) )

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