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A Giant for Bayram

A Giant for Bayram
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-11-18
Categories: Reptiles
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC H9, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 15x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 125
Exposure: f/4.5, 1/500 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): 70-79 Puntos (chapter 2), Reptiles of Africa, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park 1, Reptiles - Skinks 1, A study in Herpetology (reptiles) 1, 80-89 Points I, RARE or SIGNIFICANT contributions to TN 3, Bayram's Favorites-1, Dedications at Trek Nature part Four, Dedications to Bayram, My Dedications ;o) [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-05-11 2:15
Viewed: 9999
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 82
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Giant legless skink - Acontias plumbeus

This posting is dedicated to Dr. Bayram Göçmen (boreocypriensis) in recognition and appreciation for the valuable contribution he has made on TrekNature in the field of Herpetology. Bayram is a professional herpetologist, but he has the great ability to share his expert knowledge with us on this site in such a way that even I can understand it. So, with this humble gesture I just want to say thanks and I hope you will provide us the honour and pleasure to be able to enjoy your work for a long time to come. I have learned so much from you my friend.

Last year during November month, Anna and I had the privilege to spend some time at the wonderful Itala Game Reserve. A splendid facility with fabulous mountainous landscapes and a spectacular diversity in animal and botanical life. I will still post some photos of this visit at a later stage. We decided to depart early on our final day and upon our return trip divert to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and make a day visit out of that. During this trip we come across a creature which I have never before encountered during the 18 years that I have frequently visited this park or even any other place during my life. Naturally I had to get out of the car to investigate closer because there was no way that I would let this opportunity pass me by without knowing what it is or at least get a couple of close-up photos. This was on the Gontshi Loop, coming through the Memorial gate and turning right going all the way over the low-water bridge and ±450m from the bridge.

At first when I approached this unknown creature it was wriggling furiously in the middle of the gravel road trying very hard to give me the impression that it might be a snake. The strange thing was that it was actually going nowhere pretty fast. The more it writhed about the less it progressed, but to be honest with you, at first it almost had me fooled into believing this 'snake' idea and I was pretty 'cat-foot' around it. Eventually I caught on to its bluff though. When I observed the shiny scales and the almost 'duck like face' I realised that this cute guy must be some kind of skink. That was when I moved in closer with the Sony to get a couple of 'in-your-face' shots. Evidently the skink didn't like this close approach too much. When it didn't try to play 'snake' then it played 'dead' which was obviously the behaviour I favoured as it is much easier to photograph a skink playing dead than one with an identity crisis trying hard to pretend to be a furious 'black mamba'.

**Note1: Please view the workshop as well to see a full body shot of this interesting skink which measured ±40cm in length. It is the 1st posting of this species on TrekNature.

**Note2: I had to extract bits and pieces of information from 9 different Internet sites and 3 different books to make up the species notes of this posting. Nowhere could I find any significant data at one specific location so I decided instead of naming all the research sources I'd rather just mention the fact that information on this species is very sparse and was rather difficult to obtain.

Taxonomic Classification

: Animalia (animals)
PHYLUM: Chordata (vertebrates & invertebrates)
CLASS: Reptilia (crocodilia, lizards, snakes, and turtles)
ORDER: Squamata (scaled reptiles – lizards & snakes)
FAMILY: Scincidae (skinks)
GENUS: Acontias (lance skinks)
SPECIES: plumbeus (sand-swimmer legless skink)

It is the world's largest limbless skink with specimens up to 55cm been recorded. At approximately ½ metre in length it can obviously inflict a painful bite, but it's often misidentified as a snake and killed.

It has a thick stocky body with a short cylindrical tail and lack any trace of external limbs. The head is broad and elongate. The steel-grey snout differs slightly in colour from the rest of the head scales and it has a large and obvious rostral (beak-shaped) scale. A groove in the rostral runs from the nostril to the posterior edge of the rostral scale. The eyes are small, however conspicuous with movable eyelids, but appear sunken and differ markedly from those of snakes. The lower eyelids are transparent. The body colour varies from bluish-black, black, or dark brown and the belly is lighter. Scales are shiny, overlapping and tight fitting, and the head scales are enlarged. There are no external ear openings.

Africa: Endemic to North-Eastern South Africa, Swaziland, Southern Mozambique, and Eastern Zimbabwe.

Forest or dense bush in coastal or lowveld areas where they burrow in loose humid ground, or in loamy soils, and leaf litter.

They move about above ground after rains. Also known to bask on the surface in the mornings and are often observed sunning themselves on road sides. These reptiles are seldom encountered because of their habitat preference.

They feed on earthworms, spiders, insects (termites, larvae, beetles), and other invertebrates which they kill with their crushing bite. Given the chance it will also take frogs and other small vertebrates. They have been observed feeding on surface-living insects, catching them by ambush from below ground.

Viviparous, bearing 2-14 live young in a single litter at late summer (March to April). They develop fairly slowly.

Conservation status
Least concerned (although rarely seen).

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

Jamesp, haraprasan, boreocypriensis, thor68, zulfu, SelenE, marhowie, mariki, eqshannon, gerbilratz, meyerd, Miss_Piggy, gannu, albert, Alex99, bobcat08, Dyker, Rehanna, JoshLewis, manyee, goldyrs, smitha, Aaltjie, Ken52, aido, sranjan, anel, eng55, ramthakur, jeanpaul, carper, uleko, oscarromulus, betsie has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Aaltjie: Birds, butterflies, & flowersloot 2 07-13 20:29
To smitha: Brave fighterloot 3 05-23 22:59
To manyee: Not fuzzy cuddlyloot 1 05-21 23:12
To Rehanna: Brrrrrrrloot 1 05-21 23:04
To thor68: Alien attackloot 1 05-21 22:39
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Loot

A worthy dedication. Great shot concentrating just on the head. The detail is wonderful and conveys the smooth body very well.


yikes, alien attack?! never saw something like that strange creature. i thought it was a gigantic worm at first.*g*
terrific portrait, such an interesting face and the shiny skin with its´ reflections is awesome, it looks so smooth - i guess
you did not touch it? i wouldn´t have. wonderful, every day something new. thanks & best wishes from cologne, thor.

Hi Loot, My Dear friend,

I feel honoured by you!
Thank you very much for this lovely and rare scincid capture and dedication! You did a great work my friend because all scincid species (especially legless ones)are very difficult to photograph since they have got a shiny body cover consisting with "cycloid" scales like fishes. Congrats and many thanks for dedication! :) once again!
And of course, I'm taking this in to my favorites:)!
Have a great Sunday my friend!


  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2008-05-11 2:51]

Hello Loot, great and perfect capture of this beautiful species. I am sure that my good supervisor Dr. Göçmen loved to this capture and your kind dedication. TFS. Greetings,

very interesting, TFS Ori

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-05-11 4:02]

Hi Loot,
What an interesting creature... Well seen and captured with good details and POV.
It's a fine dedication for our friend Bayram.

Hi Loot,
Nice dedication, a fine image. I agree, Bayram has contributed greatly in the area of herpetology, with a wide variety of species. And always provides complete & accurate information when he publishes here on TN..
You've captured the shiny, reflective beast very well..I think I see a landscape within a closeup here ;}
Very good detail, color, and light..& even a catchlight to round it off.

Hello Loot,

Very nice close-up of this skink. Excellent capture of the texture of the scales. The shape of the jaws are amazing, almost a beak!... Very nice natural colours.

Hi Loot, seriously looking skink... he is a beut.. great capture, the lighting gives such good details and colouration. fine work, regards h

  • Great 
  • meyerd Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 585 W: 64 N: 2238] (7531)
  • [2008-05-11 11:04]
  • [2]

H iLoot,
a completely unknown example of a skink, a great head portrait of it! What amases me a lot is this beak like sheathing of the head. That must be some tough diet they have or else the head is used like a boring instrument in the soil. With your picture you give my phantasy ample room. Very good the idea with the surprise- dedication to Bayram, I'm sure he will enjoy it.
Best egards

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-05-11 13:36]
  • [2]

Hello Loot,
what a great shot of this Skink :-D
I love the glossy scales.
Excellent attention to detail.
Great clarity.
Superb lighting.
A very good dedication to Bayram!
Well done!


Splendido primo piano, ottimi POV e taglio compositivo, eccellente nitidezza con straordinaria "texture", molto belli i colori e la luce. Grazie e mcomplimenti. Ciao Maurizio

Hi Loot
Voorwaar 'n mooi foto. Sal nie graag self naby die outjie wil kom nie (dit lyk net te veel na 'n slang), so dankie vir al die inligting oor hierdie reptiel.

Hi Loot,
A nice captured portrait of this beautiful legless skink. Half a meter WOW!A good dedication. Its jaws looks terrifying. Very good details and a lovely composition. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Hallo Loot
A fine dedication to Bayram. A lovely photograph of this Giant legless skink. I wonder how many people have confused a skink with a snake. If one look at the photo in the workshop without reading your notes, it is easy to misjudge what you thought you saw and think it is a snake that you are looking at. I like the side view in which you have captured this reptile, this way displaying the curves of the beak so closely and with clarity. This skink has a gorgeous shiny colour and it looks like the front part of its face has a waxy cover placed over it. You where quite close while photographing it and this closeness is shown beautifully on this image. The sandy surface and background really sets this shot off too. This is a great portrait, well presented as always. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed looking at it as it reminded me of the wonderful time we had at the game reserve.

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-05-12 3:52]

Hello Loot, Lovely dedication to a wonderful person. Lovely shot and with a superb sharpness. Great compo and nice focus. Ganesh

Hi Loot
Very interesting, never seen such species before
Well seen and capture

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-05-12 10:26]

Hi Loot.
Simply amazing picture of the nice creature and touching dedication. I am impressed with quality of the image and perfect representation of unknown for m reptile. Superb skin tones and texture reproduction, nice DOF and details of the ground, impressive low POV and cropping. As usual your note is great. Bravo.

Hello Loot,

Congrats with this 1st posting of this species on TrekNature. I have never seen such an animal on this way. Yes by Discovery Channel and so on. A great and perfect capture of this beautiful species. What a smooth skin has this animal. Fine details and as always Razorsharp. Very fine and interesting notes. When I take a look at the WS this guy is big men. Regards and TFS BOB

  • Great 
  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2008-05-12 17:41]

Hello Loot
Congratulations on one more unknown creature brought to us from your great camera work and I see another first on the Trek Nature site. From the workshop I gather that this didn't look much like a 'black mamba' as you said, but I realise it was all 'tongue-in-cheek', but I think I too would have been rather 'cat-foot' upon seeing this critter for the first time and not knowing what kind of mayhem it might be able to cause. You did some fine research from the many sources you mentioned to come up with this comprehensive and informative study on the species and I am sure Bayram must have been very impressed by it. The photo itself is great showing the shiny skin and nice sharp focused details. Excellent work.

Hello Loot

Nou wat nog? Elke keer iets nuuts, iets vreemds, iets komies, iets anderster, iets uniek, of sommer net iets van hoogstaande gehalte. Ek het al lankal besef dat 'n mens nie net een van jou bydraes oopmaak en verwag dat dit iets normaals of alledaags sal wees nie. Daar is altyd een of ander verrassings element, 'n kinkel in die storie lyn, of plynweg 'n briljante voorstelling van iets alledaags, maar vanuit 'n nuwe vars oogpunt. Dankie vir die vermaaklikheids en opvoedkundige faktor wat altyd in jou werk teenwoordig is.

Aangaande hierdie oorgroeide wurm, al wat ek kan sê is dat ek waarskynlik glad nie die vrede sou glo en eers uit my kar sou klim om nader ondersoek in te stel nie. Definitief lyk dit vir my ook te veel na 'n slang (brrrrrrr). Puik fotografie om dit op so 'n uitsekende wyse te kon vaspen en te vertoon.


Wow! Shiny! Now that is one shiny Giant legless! Perhaps the shiniest animal photo I have ever seen! Thanks for sharing! Great photo! P.S. Wonderful description! Cheers Josh Lewis.

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2008-05-13 23:17]
  • [+]

This is certainly an interesting creature, Loot.
Not of the fuzzy cuddly persuasion, but interesting. : P
I have to say that you captured that skink with excellent focus and exposure. The details and colors are amazing.
I like his "armored" mouth.
The workshop photo showing the whole animal is quite impressive. And thank you for all your efforts to provide us with comprehensive and understandable info about this creature.
TFS. : )

A lovely dedication to someone who is worthy of it.
Very well done!

Hello loot,
A befitting dedication to Bayram.I have never seen a Skink like this one.Your WS picture shows it long, fat and shiny.Reminds me of a fish fresh out of water. It looks so fragile and docile in the close up shot that it makes it hard to believe that they have a strong bite and can even attack frogs.your close up shot gives an excellent view of its eye, mouth and the way those shiny scales are arranged on its body.Excellent POV, DOF and colours.
Thanks for the share,

Dear Loot
This is really astonishing. It is always GREAT to look at your images, as the most of the times you surprise us with something out of the ordinary like this skink. There is at least a bird, a butterfly and a flower on each page of the gallery. Nothing wrong with that, because each person has a right to his/her own opinion. BUT I cannot understand that something as extraordinary as your photo do not get the recognition that it really deserve. The details of the scales on this skink is shaped and formed so perfectly. It is a great idea that you made the headpart the centre of attraction, this way one can focus on the finer detail of this reptile. This is really a very interesting living thing. Altough I don’t know the person (Bayram) who you dedicated this image too, I am sure he appreciated it tremendously. Thanks for sharing, and as always your notes are SUPER SPECIAL, and I am sure you have done a lot of research to present to us all the information as per your notes. THANKS A MILLION.
Warmest regards.

  • Great 
  • Ken52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 636 W: 93 N: 1243] (4195)
  • [2008-05-15 21:10]

Both photos are technically amazing. What an unusual creature. I have never seen such a thing. The light is incredible and that, along with razor sharp focus produces such a beautiful sheen. I love the detail we seen in scales on main photo.

  • Great 
  • aido Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 1044 W: 156 N: 1218] (4046)
  • [2008-05-16 4:21]

Hello Loot,
Very acomplished camera work here, the detail is excellent, I imagine it would e easy to lose a lot of that to light. I've never seen one of these before (or even heard of it) so it's great to meet another occupant of this floating rock we call home. The scales and markings are beautiful (again great work to display them in their full glory). As always an interesting and entertaining note. You also win the prize for the longest intro page (mine is currently one word!).
Best regards,

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2008-05-17 5:17]

hello Loot,
In some way I always miss your shots. So I had a look at your galerie and I found this amazing shot of this curious creature. It was a great idea to focuse on the head, it looks so strange, like coming from elsewhere. Excellent note and beautiful workshop picture too.
A great thank for this unusual posting
Best regards

  • Great 
  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2008-05-17 8:07]

Hi Loot,
This reptile is new to me.At first sight i thought it was a fish:)Well exposed,framed and composed.Lovely dedication for Bayram.Thanks for posting.

I would not stop to take a photo, I would RUN, lol.
Jokes aside, an exceptional photo, sharp and shiny! I bet those beady eyes could easily hipnotise one!
Thanks for enabling me to view a specimen like this up close!
Well done!

Bravo for thorough research on this Skink, Loot!
The information in your note gives a good idea about this huge creature. No wonder you took it for a snake. Your diagnosis on its identity crisis made me laugh out loud :)!
The close-up picture is so sharp and crisp I can count the scales on the visible portion.
Thanks for sharing this picture of a reptile seen for the first time on TN.
Best regards.

Bonjour Loot!

Félicitations pour cette présentation,le sujet est superbe et les détails sont très clairs. Bravo pour la belle composition et les couleurs.

Merci pour l'envoie amitié ....JP

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2008-05-19 4:04]

I can see a slight smile on this fellow's face Loot. He thought he had fooled you!! And the WS makes me think it looks more like an eel than a snake - but then I don't really know snakes too well. Well, not at all! (Dave thought it was a worm!) Not at 40cms long...
Very interesting to see MF

  • Great 
  • zeca Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 373 W: 14 N: 539] (2887)
  • [2008-05-19 21:57]

Its a very nice capture, Loot! It looks like so wet, a kind of methalic! Its head shape is strange! A different creature! Thank you for post it!

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-05-22 21:44]

Hello Loot

A wonderful encounter of this skink.
The details show well.
Another example of the amazing biodiversity here on Earth.
Well focused with good detail.


marvelous one Loot,
a fantastic heat of this snake, good capture, fine shot, and good photojob, well done my friend.
gr. jaap

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-05-26 8:15]

Hello Loot,
What a fantastic encounter - I never knew of such a large Skink and your two captures and your excellent note present it very nicely indeed! It does rather look like a mixture of a fish and a snake. Amazing shiny scales and a fine colour. Excellent quality of the captures too.
Best wishes and thank you for showing this, Ulla

Dear Loot,
zoologically very valuable, well describing contribution. The workshop photo is just as perfect or even more powerful in drawing the attention, and in giving a clear impression of this faszinating legless lizard that looks as if specialized for digging and moving around in the soil like a worm.
Thank you! My best regards,

  • Great 
  • clnaef Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 778 W: 67 N: 645] (6814)
  • [2008-06-03 23:30]

Que voilà un reptile original. Intéressant portrait.
Bonne journée.

This is all a novelty to me. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL.
Loved your notes, the story that goes with this image and the OUTSTANDINDING images. (W/S & map included.)
Am so joyful that you exist; and, what's more wonderful is that you share FREELY "ALL" that you know & have.
You, my friend, are one of the, THE, most humble individuals on TN.
Warm regards to you both. Mario from Calgary, Canada.

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