The Loh Down On Science

You won't believe what happens when you shake these eggs!

For these Australian lizards, baby’s first steps are a sprint!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Meet the delicate skink, a type of tiny lizard native to eastern Australia.

Delicate skinks lay eggs that hatch in four to eight weeks. But if a predator threatens, eggs may hatch early—and away run the lizards!

Ecologist Sean Doody discovered this while in the field with student Phillip Paull.  The two were lifting eggs out of a crevice when . . . Holy Dooley!  The hatchlings literally popped out and sprinted away!

Thinking it might be a fluke, the duo ran a series of trials both in the lab and in the field.  They gently shook, poked, pinched, or dropped dozens of lizard eggs. Overall, skinklings hatched and ran over eighty percent of the time that their eggs were manhandled!

Doody thinks vibrations are the tipoff.  The downside to early hatching?  Hatchlings tend to be smaller, which may put them at a disadvantage.

Still, being eaten in the egg is probably a bigger disadvantage. Good on ya, skinks!  And G’day!
 

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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