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Tongan giant skink

Tachygyia microlepis was a large species of skink in Tonga. Although considered extinct, sightings still continue.

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Tongan giant skink

Reptile, Lizard

Taxonomy
Geography

Tongan cryptid, Polynesian cryptid

Habitat

Rainforest-dwelling

Descriptors

Carnivore, Lazarus taxon

The Tongan ground skink, more commonly called the Tongan giant skink, was a large lizard species inhabiting the tropical rainforests of Tongatapu and ‘Eua, the two southernmost, and largest major islands in Tonga. The Tongan giant skink was quite large, at 1-1.5 ft long, with dull green skin with black spots, a round head and no middorsal ridge. The Tongan giant skink was thought to of went extinct in 1827 due to habitat loss, although reports of them persist into modern times.


In 1927, an unnamed French Biologist claimed to have caught a Tongan giant skink, but was unaware of his find and let it go. In the early 1970s, Lannon Oldenburg observed a Tongan giant skink on a plantation two kilometres southwest of the village of Pelehake. In 1984, a man named Peter Chignell claimed to have spotted a Tongan giant skink in the forest during a controlled burn.


In 1985, biologist John R. H. Gibbons started a survey in an attempt to find surviving Tongan giant skinks in the rainforests of Tongatapu. Unfortunately, he believed that deforestation and the introduction of small predatory mammals made it unlikely for any large lizards to survive undetected on Tongatapu. Gibbons did, however, think neighbouring Eua’ Island is more likely for them to successfully remain hidden. Some theorize it may be unusually large specimens of Emoia trossula, the largest extant skink in Tonga, although it rarely exceeds six inches.