The new species is distinguishable from its closest cousin, a type of skink found in the southern Philippines, in several distinct ways:
These traits combined to confirm the original hypothesis that the lizard was, in fact, an entirely new species.
Austin spent the entire summer of 2006 in New Guinea, his geographical area of expertise, conducting fieldwork with graduate students. He is currently working on research funded by the National Science Foundation to understand why New Guinea, called a megadiverse region, has such a high level of biodiversity.
"While we were there, we collected what we think is a new species of snake, a new species of lizard and probably two or three new species of frogs," he said. "But the process of certifying a new species takes so long that it will be awhile before we're certain."