14 December 1993        20c, 45c/45c, $1.00, $1.50/$1/50                Mint and CTO    $5.10
                                                                                                              FDC                   $5.60

Technical Details

        Release Date:                    14 December 1993
        Tablet Values:                   20c, 45c/45c se tenant pair, $1.00, $1.50/$1.50 se tenant pair
        Artist:                                Gordon Drummond
        Printer:                              Walsall Security Printers Limited
        Process:                            Lithography
        Paper:                               CA Spiral Watermark
        Stamp Size:                       25.60 x 38.52 mm
        Perforation Gauge:            13 per 2 cm
        Pane Format:                    40 (2 x 20)
        Mint and CTO:                 $5.10
        First Day Cover:               $5.60

The fauna and flora of the Pitcairn Islands, with a few exceptions had not been closely studied until the Sir Peter Scott Commemorative Expedition in 1991-2, when a group of twenty eight people, including eighteen scientists visited the region over a period of fifteen months.  Although Henderson Island was the prime area of study, Pitcairn, Ducie and Oeno were all visited by Expedition members.

Dr Brian J Gill, Curator of Land Vertebrates at the Auckland Institute and Museum, has been extremely helpful in identifying the skinks and geckos featured in this issue and his following contribution is acknowledged with thanks:

    Lizards have colonised the islands of the South Pacific from west to east, either naturally by being carried on floating debris from island to island, or artificially through man's activities.  The latter include the voyages of Polynesian seafarers during the past few thousand years, who may have spread lizards accident or deliberately.  Being so far to the east, the Pitcairn group has very few lizards - only six species.  All are widely distributed in the Pacific.

20c stamp:   The Indopacific Tree Gecko is patchily distributed in the Pacific but is widespread in South-east Asia.  It is known on Pitcairn Island from a single specimen.

45c/45c se tenant pair:   The Stump-toed Gecko is a common house gecko in Asia and the Pacific, and probably reached Pitcairn Island this century as a stowaway in cargo.   Mourning Geckos occur mainly as female-only populations.  Without any involvement of males they lay eggs that hatch into females.  This phenomenon - parthenogenesis or "virgin birth" - is very rare in land vertebrates.

$1.00 stamp and $1.50/$1.50 se tenant pair:   The Snake-eyed Skink, so far known only from Henderson Island among the Pitcairn Islands, has a large transparent scale covering its eye and cannot blink.  This is the condition in snakes and geckos but is rare among skinks.  The White-bellied and Moth Skinks are extremely common throughout the South Pacific.  All the lizards of the Pitcairn group eat arthropods like insects and spiders.