Roadkill is a decent way to occupy your afternoon

Many people have expressed concern for my well being out here. They worry I will yearn for fanciful things like the cinema, bars, nightlife, and fancy restaurants. How will I fend off the boredom that is symptomatic of living in a remote place like Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park? I have been here for 10 days now, and I it has been nothing but excitement packed days. This place is by all accounts phenomenal and fascinating. So far I have experienced the following

  • I have appeared on a live television broadcast concert celebrating the free to air launch of National Indigenous Television (NITV)
  • I have participated in camel culling
  • I have witnessed hippie pagans preparing for the mayan predicted end of the planet

In light of all of this excitement the real question is, how do I relax on my weekends. What do I do to escape from all of this? That answer is, explore the roadkill. Yesterday I observed a roadkill Varanus gouldii or sand goanna (Australian lizard, for my non-biologist readers) on my way home from the grocery store. I stopped to investigate, and I noticed that it was freshly killed and only the right side of the head had been damaged. So I picked up the unfortunate victim and felt around with my thumbs over it’s stomach. I felt a large knot inside. Naturally, I wanted to know what was inside this animal, so I threw the goanna on the passenger floor board and headed home.

After putting away the groceries I laid out my specimen and my implements of exploration

VAGOdisect 1

Before I go any further I am sorry for the poor photo quality, I was more interested in opening up this animal than taking quality photos of the process.

I used a scalpel and split open the goanna.

VASOdisect2

And this is where the photos end. I was hoping that the large knot in the goannas stomach would be another smaller lizard, as goannas are well known as lizard eating lizards. But the rough talley of what I found is as follows

  • coleoptera elytra (beetle wing covers)
  • scorpion legs
  • scorpion mouth parts
  • grass
  • nematodes (intestinal parasites)

It was admittedly a very amateur dissection, really nothing more than childlike curiosity aided by the possession of scalpel. Who needs cinemas and fancy restaurants when you’ve got fresh roadkill to explore!