The Darling Downs Dragons had remained hidden from Scientists for many years until 1974 when two dragons were found and described at Mount Tyson. No more Dragons were recorded for almost 30 years.
Herpetologists feared the Grassland Earless Dragon had become extinct on the Downs. Things changed when in December 2000 Bongeen schoolboy Damien Wooldridge and his family took a live specimen to the Queensland Museum. Interest in the conservation of the species was renewed and Tympanocryptis sp. is now listed as endangered.
In 2003, the locally found species was positively identified as a Grassland Earless Dragon with the support of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and Queensland Murray-Darling Committee (QMDC).
Further genetic research partially funded by Pittsworth District Landcare Association and conducted by Museum Victoria and QPWS identified diversity within the population, determining two distinct and genetically different species of Earless Dragon occuring in the Darling Downs and Roma area.
Discovery to Recovery
The Grassland Earless Dragons have adapted to the modified landscape of the Darling Downs including cropping areas, roadsides and rocky outcrops.
Understanding more about the local species including its home range, habitat requirements and food sources will help inform steps that can be taken to enhance the survival of this local iconic species.
The dragons’ survival can be affected by changes in land use including conversion of pasture to cultivation, pasture improvement, too frequent fire regimes, invasion of native grasslands by weeds, overgrazing by stock and predation by foxes and feral cats.
Pittsworth District Landcare Association has partnered with Museum Victoria to continue research that improves our knowledge of the local sepcies.