Thursday, 17 December 2015

Three new fishing snake species fished out of the Andean slopes in South America

Date:December 16, 2015
Source:Pensoft Publishers

Commonly known as fishing snakes, theSynophis genus has been expanded with as many as three new species following a research in the Andean cloud forests of Amazonian Ecuador and Peru. Not only is the discovery remarkable due to the rarity of new snake species being discovered, but also because this is the first time this mysterious and already eight-member genus is recorded from Peru. The study is published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

The three new species have been identified as a result of both field and laboratory work, undertaken by Dr. Omar Torres-Carvajal, Museo de ZoologĂ­a QCAZ, Ecuador, in collaboration with herpetologists from Peru (CORBIDI) and the United States (Francis Marion University). The new species differ from their closest relatives in scale features, male sexual organs and DNA. The unusual discoveries took place in areas within the 1,542,644 km2 of the Tropical Andes hotspot, western South America.

Although they are commonly known as fishing snakes, these reptiles most likely do not eat fish. Their diet and behavior are poorly known. So far, it has only been reported that one species feeds on lizards.

The fishing snakes have long been known to live in cloud forests on both sides of the Andes of Colombia and Ecuador. Yet, it seems they have waited all along to make an appearance. The new species described herein, along with a recent description of one species from southwestern Ecuador also published in Zookeys, has duplicated the number of species of fishing snakes from four to eight over the span of several months.

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