Adapted from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter of February 2, 2007
issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve,


The Reserve has a tiny demonstration garden right next to the offices, the idea being to remind local folks that they can grow things other than tropical fruits, squash, manioc and the like. I work in it and from time to time snip a few greens.

The other day as I was weeding it I pulled up a big tuft of long-rooted grass and dislodged a good bit of dusty, sandy, pebbly material -- too dry and loose to dignify with the name of soil -- and a brown, shiny skink. Skinks are lizards belonging to the Skink Family.

I was delighted, especially because during my stay here, much in contrast to my past Yucatan locations, I've run across very few reptiles and amphibians. I've heard frogs croaking and I saw one remarkably long, slender snake swimming across the reservoir, and that's it.

This skink looked familiar. With its thick body, brown color, many rows of prominent scales and a dark line right through its eye and down its body it reminded me of the Broad-headed Skinks I used to write about back in Mississippi. However, it didn't have an angular head or any hint of orange around the throat.

Some years back two herpetologists (reptile-and-amphibian specialists) made a list of "herps" here in the Reserve, turning up eight or nine species of amphibian and eleven reptile species. By Googling each skink name on their list I decided that probably my garden discovery was the Four-lined Skink, EUMECES TETRAGRAMMUS, distributed from central Texas south at least to here. You can see one at

So, that was pretty good. May this be the first of many herps I run into here.