Boyd’s Forest Dragon (Hypsilurus boydii), resplendent in his camouflaged coating and ornate headdress, had a fortuitous visit this morning. A Giant Tropical Mantid (Hierodula majuscula) made the mistake of walking into sight of the ever-vigilant dragon and swiftly became breakfast.
Boyd”s Forest Dragons are endemic to the rainforests of Australia’s Wet Tropics. They can reach a total length of 54-cm and may live to sixty-years. They prefer the vertical surfaces of a tree-trunks with a slightly larger diameter than their own girth, to hide behind upon the approach of any potential threat. Occupying a territorial distribution of around one dragon per 500 square metres of forest, they protect themselves from Amethystine Pythons in another peculiar way.
They distinguish themselves from most other rainforest reptiles by maintaining a consistently colder body temperature. This is achieved by avoiding exposure to direct sunlight in an unusually precautionary thermo-regulation. By ensuring that their body temperature is always precisely the same as the temperature of the vegetation upon which they sleep, they remain thermally inconspicuous to the Amethystine Python (Morelia kinghorni), with its formidable heat-sensing capabilities.
Mantises (Mantodea), is an order of insects containing more than 2,400-species in 15-families around the world. Most are in the family Mantidae. They are often called “praying mantes” because of their typical posture of folded fore-limbs in a prayer-like position.
Most mantises are predatory, although exceptions do occur. Their primary prey are insects, but as they mature through a series of ‘instars’ the diet of a mantis changes as it grows larger. It progresses through small insects, such as tiny flies and its own siblings, then in later instars the diet includes larger species of insects, with the addition of small scorpions, lizards, frogs, birds, snakes and rodents. A small Boyd’s Forest Dragon would even be suitable fare for the voracious praying mantis.
This morning, the mantis was grabbed and devoured by an adult male Hypsilurus boydii. Thus the predator became the prey, and the victim, and the cycle of life in Daintree Rainforest, continued.