The UAE's desert continues to prove fertile ground for naturalists and hobbyists alike.
Four years ago, the Arabian Mau, a native species of cat, was identified by the World Cat Federation as a new breed, in the first such certification in a decade. The desert cat has inhabited the Middle East for thousands of years, but only gained attention after migrating in large numbers from sand-dune habitat to urban centres in search of food and shelter.
Another creature, a local subspecies of the common wonder gecko, which is indigenous in Iran and northern Pakistan, has now demanded to be noticed. As The National reported yesterday, beyond the basic facts - the gecko is a solitary, nocturnal creature that lives in sand-dune burrows and has a skin of brilliant orange and yellow - very little light has been shed on the UAE's Teratoscincus scincus since it was discovered 20 years ago.
The idea of a barren, lifeless desert is belied by this little fellow, and the other creatures that inhabit this domain. Footprints in the sand lead us to one remarkable discovery after another.