Beautiful new species of rare burrowing snake discovered

A strikingly beautiful burrowing snake previously unknown to science has been discovered in Paraguay and is making waves due to its coloration and rarity.

Described in a new study published in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution as a nonvenomous member of the genus Phalotris, the snake has been detected in just two locations so far in the landlocked South American republic.

phaloris shawnella It is named in honor of two children, Shawn Ariel Fernández and Ella Bethany Atkinson, who were born in 2008, the same year the non-profit Fundación Para La Tierra was founded.

Phalotris shawnella discovered in Paraguay
Phalotris shawnella, a non-venomous snake previously unknown to science, was discovered in Paraguay.
Jean-Paul Brouard/Zenger

The two boys are credited with encouraging the non-profit organization to fight for Paraguay’s endangered wildlife.

Because only three individual snakes have been found so far, and in only two areas in the province of San Pedro, in eastern Paraguay, the authors of the article believe that it is in danger of extinction, which means that without protection it is in imminent danger of extinction.

The genus Phalotris features at least 15 species of snakes distributed in the vast Cerrado savanna ecoregion that stretches from Brazil to Paraguay.

Phalotris shawnella discovered in Paraguay
Phalotris shawnella, a non-venomous snake previously unknown to science, was discovered in Paraguay.
Jean-Paul Brouard/Zenger

Researcher Jean-Paul Brouard discovered one of the snakes by chance when he was digging a hole at Rancho Laguna Blanca in 2014.

The snake is considered a fossorial species, meaning that it spends most of its time digging and hunting just below the surface of the ground in its environment.

In concert with his colleagues Paul Smith and Pier Cacciali, Brouard wrote of the snake, which unlike related species has a red head in combination with a yellow band around the neck, followed by black lateral bands and orange scales with black spots on the sides. the belly. .

So far, the snake has been found only in Laguna Blanca – a tourist destination – and Colonia Volendam, which are about 90 kilometers away.

A ma distribution of Phalotris shawnella. (Jean-Paul Brouard/Zenger).

Laguna Blanca had been reserved for the conservation of native reptiles and amphibians.

Of the three individuals, only one was captured for study, while the other two escaped, but not before being photographed.

“This demonstrates once again the need to protect the natural environment in this region of Paraguay,” the authors stated.

They went on to say: “Laguna Blanca was designated as a Nature Reserve for a period of 5 years, but currently has no protection whatsoever. The preservation of this site should be considered a national priority for conservation.”

Known for its sandy soils, the Cerrado region of Paraguay is being developed for agriculture and ranching at a rapid rate, endangering the natural environment.

Phalotris shawnella discovered in Paraguay
Phalotris shawnella, a non-venomous snake previously unknown to science, was discovered in Paraguay.
Jean-Paul Brouard/Zenger

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

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