June 19, 2024

Striking New Species of Snake Discovered in Paraguay – Previously Unknown to Science

Phalotris shawnella. Credit: Jean-Paul Brouard

Phalotris shawnella. Credit: Jean-Paul Brouard

Phalotris shawnella. Credit: Jean-Paul Brouard

Phalotris shawnella. Credit: Jean-Paul Brouard

A magnificent non-venomous snake, formerly unidentified to science, was found in Paraguay and described by scientists from the Paraguayan NGO Para La Tierra in cooperation with Guyra Paraguay and the Instituto de Investigación Biológica del Paraguay. The brand-new snake species belongs to the genus Phalotris, which includes 15 semi-subterranean species distributed in main South America. Jean-Paul Brouard, one of the researchers involved in the research study, came across an individual of the brand-new types by opportunity while digging a hole at Rancho Laguna Blanca in 2014. The authors called it Phalotris shawnella, in honor of 2 kids– Shawn Ariel Smith Fernández and Ella Bethany Atkinson– who were born in the exact same year as the Fundación Para La Tierra (2008 ). The new Phalotris snake is particularly attractive and can be differentiated from other associated types in its genus by its red head in combination with a yellow collar, a black lateral band, and orange forward scales with irregular black areas.

A circulation map of Phalotris shawnella. Credit: Jean-Paul Brouard
The extreme rarity of this types led the authors to consider it “Endangered,” according to the conservation classifications of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which implies it is in imminent threat of termination in the absence of steps for its security.
This species can just be discovered in the famous tourist location of Laguna Blanca, an area declared as an Important Area for the Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles.

Phalotris shawnella. Credit: Jean-Paul Brouard
A stunning non-venomous snake, formerly unidentified to science, was found in Paraguay and described by researchers from the Paraguayan NGO Para La Tierra in collaboration with Guyra Paraguay and the Instituto de Investigación Biológica del Paraguay. The new snake species belongs to the genus Phalotris, which features 15 semi-subterranean species dispersed in central South America. This group of snakes is kept in mind for its striking pigmentation with red, black, and yellow patterns.
Jean-Paul Brouard, one of the researchers included in the study, came across a person of the new species by opportunity while digging a hole at Rancho Laguna Blanca in 2014. Together with his colleagues Paul Smith and Pier Cacciali, he explained the discovery in the open-access scientific journal Zoosystematics and Evolution. The authors called it Phalotris shawnella, in honor of two children– Shawn Ariel Smith Fernández and Ella Bethany Atkinson– who were born in the exact same year as the Fundación Para La Tierra (2008 ). They motivated the founders of the NGO to work for the conservation of Paraguayan wildlife, in the hope that their kids can acquire a better world.
Phalotris shawnella. Credit: Jean-Paul Brouard
The new Phalotris snake is particularly appealing and can be identified from other related types in its genus by its red head in combination with a yellow collar, a black lateral band, and orange ventral scales with irregular black spots. Only known from 3 individuals, it is endemic to the Cerrado forests of the department of San Pedro in east Paraguay. Its recognized circulation consists of two spots with sandy soils in that department– Colonia Volendam and Laguna Blanca– which are 90 km (56 miles) apart.

” This shows when again the need to secure the natural surroundings in this area of Paraguay,” the authors comment. “Laguna Blanca was designated as a Nature Reserve for a duration of 5 years, but presently has no protection at all. The conservation of this website must be considered a national top priority for preservation.”
Reference: “A new types of Phalotris (Serpentes, Colubridae, Elapomorphini) from Paraguay” by Paul Smith, Jean-Paul Brouard and Pier Cacciali, 7 March 2022, Zoosystematics and Evolution.DOI: 10.3897/ zse.98.61064.