Biologists have identified a new species of earth snake that has eluded detection so far by burrowing and keeping to a restricted ecosystem, according to a new study in the journal ZooKeys.
Researchers discovered the new snake through a reptile specimen collection program in east-central Mexico. The program’s primary objective was to study rarely-seen reptiles in this part of the country.
One particular specimen displayed a unique pair of traits for earth snakes, a remarkable orange and black color banding motif. The biologist came to realize these snakes were the manifestation of a whole new species and proceeded to describe it within the new paper.
“Most of these snakes have notably small geographic ranges and sometimes are only found in one type of vegetation. This makes them particularly vulnerable to the destruction of their habitat. It is important to know them before it gets too late,” the study said.
Finding a New Snake Species
The study team further investigated their specimens with genetic and anatomical analyses.
“These snakes are remarkably similar to each other and it has been only through molecular analyses and rigorous specimen examination that we have come close to understand how diverse they are,” the authors wrote in their report.
The area involving the species is discovered is yet to be thoroughly explored, and the scientists said it seems probable the region could yield future discoveries. Furthermore, scientists’ work indicated the existence of other undescribed varieties of earth snake.
“Our analyses suggest that this group is more diverse than previously thought. They have proven to be an exciting model to understand the patterns of biological richness in the Mexican mountains,” the authors wrote.
In May, a different team of scientists announced the discovery of a unique and critically threatened snake species in The Bahamas. The research said there are probably less than 1,000 individuals of the silver-hued snake they dubbed Conception Bank silver boa (Chilabothrus argentum). The scientists called for the International Union for Conservation of Nature to declare them as Critically Endangered.
Fortunately, tourists to the location are fairly uncommon, although the reptile does encounter threats like natural disasters, the illegal pet trade and feral cats, which live on Conception Island and are seen preying boas in other places around the Bahamas.
Image credit: Miguel Ángel de la Torre Loranca