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New species of green pit viper snake discovered

By Lucy Brake - 30 Mar 2011 10:24:0 GMT
New species of green pit viper snake discovered

Adult male from Nam Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam (photo: Peter Paul van Dijk).

An undiscovered species of snake, which has been called the ruby-eyed green pit viper, was found nestled into a tree branch by researchers studying snakes in Southeast Asia. They captured the stunning creature in a photograph which has been used to help identify it as a new species previously unknown to humans.

The scientists were investigating different snake species to try and learn more about these amazing creatures, what their habitat needs are and just how many species are in the world. They stumbled across the ruby-eyed green pit viper during their work in the forests of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

The new species has since been given the taxonomic name of Cryptelytrops rubeus. According to the scientists this new species of snake lives in the forests around Ho Chi Minh City as well as through the low forests of southern Vietnam and along the Langbian Plateau in eastern Cambodia.

Specimens of snakes from the forests around Southeast Asia were taken back to laboratories for further research and investigation. The scientists analysed and examined the snakes different genetics and physical characteristics so they could identify any new snake species

''We know this species from only a few specimens, and very few people in the world have seen this snake'', said study co-author Anita Malhotra, who is a molecular ecologist at Bangor University in Great Brittan. ''We know very little about what it does, to be honest''.

In addition to the new ruby-eyed green pit viper, the same researchers have discovered another new species that is very similar but with yellow eyes. Known now as the Cardamom Mountains green pit viper (Cryptelytrops cardamomensis) the scientists have confirmed this snake lives in southwestern Cambodia and southeastern Thailand.

Scientists will now be working on further investigations to learn more about this exciting new discovery. The full study on these snake discoveries was published in the journal ZOOTAXA.