Tuesday, 18 April 2017

There be dragons on Plunkett's sandstone!

Tommy roundhead, Cedar Creek.

On Good Friday, I hiked with some friends up into the rugged sandstone country of Plunkett Regional Park, a beauty of a reserve found at the southern end of Logan.

Joseph’s Coat moths (Agarista agricola), flowering slug herbs (Murdannia graminea) and a common bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera) all made for enjoyable sights, but the highlight was a tiny dragon that crossed our paths on one of the more elevated trails.

It resembled a nobbi dragon (Diporiphora nobbi), a species I have encountered a couple of times before, but seemed slightly smaller.

Reviewing my photos and field guides upon returning home revealed it to be a tommy roundhead (D. australis), a close relation of the nobbi and a creature I have not seen before.

Both dragons can have variable colours and patterning, and can be tricky to separate.

The nobbi, however, has a slightly spikier appearance, thanks to five rows of small spines that run from the rear of its head down the centre of its back.

Nobbi dragon, Joyner.

When the tommy roundhead has spines, they are limited to the line where its sides meet its back (the dorso-lateral line).

The tommy roundhead we saw was quite confident in its camouflage capabilities, remaining out in the open just a few metres away from us after it was initially disturbed by our walking.

Tommy roundhead, Cedar Creek.

Many South-east Queenslanders are familiar with our two common species of dragons, the bearded (Pogona barbata) and eastern water dragon (Intellagama lesueurii), but are less aware of the other species we share our forests with.

Besides the nobbi dragon and tommy roundhead, our subtropical rainforests are home to the southern angle-headed dragon (Hypsilurus spinipes), and isolated patches of open woodland are still inhabited by that Australian icon, the frillneck lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii).


  1. Two "dragons" that I have never seen before!

    1. They're easy to miss, Liz... but lovely to find! :)