As part of an investigation into the relationships of the crag lizards (genus Pseudocordylus), Dr Michael Bates and Mr Edgar Mohapi of the Department of Animal and Plant Systematics conducted several collecting expeditions in South Africa. Tissue samples from the specimens were used in genetic analyses to gain insight into the evolutionary relationships between the different populations. Several years later I was asked to assist with this project by expanding on the genetic analysis.
Photo 1: Lithops lesliei subsp. lesliei in flower (Photo DP van Rensburg)
Plant adaptations are fascinating and intriguing. A very advanced and interesting adaption is mimicry. Mimicry can happen in different forms, in certain flowering plants, especially orchids, it can imitate insect pollinators, and some plants have flowers with a scent similar to rotting flesh. Others, like the mimicry succulents (for example Lithops lesliei, Photo 1), have adapted to merge perfectly with the habitat in which they grow (Photo 2).
South Africa is well known for its remarkable plant diversity and extraordinary plant species. Some of the most impressive plant species are the quiver trees. Formerly quiver trees were part of the genus Aloe, but a new genus Aloidendron was created for tree aloes.
The Common Dwarf Gecko (Lygodactyluscapensis) is a small greyish-brown lizard with specialised toes for gripping tree trunks and rocks. Adults have a body length of about 4–5 cm and the tail is about the same length. Unlike most other gecko species, these little creatures are active during the day and not at night, although they may remain out on walls even after dark on very warm summer nights.
Forty-two reptile specimens from Mozambique are preserved in the collection of the National Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa. This collection is comprised of 39 lizards referable to 10 families, 12 genera and 18 (possibly 19) species; and three snakes referable to two families, three genera and three species. Specimens were collected at 19 localities in six provinces (Tete, Manica, Sofala, Gaza, Inhambane and Maputo) in the central and southern parts of the country, mostly south of the Zambezi River.