CONCEPTION ISLAND BANK, The Bahamas – A new species of boa constrictor has been discovered on a remote island in the Bahamas.
Scientists identified 20 of the metre-long snakes during two expeditions to the Caribbean islands, the second made in October last year.
One of the creatures made a dramatic appearance by slithering on to the head of the expedition leader as he slept.
The silver boa, Chilabothrus argentum, is so named because of its distinctive metallic colour and the fact that the first specimen found was climbing a silver palm tree.
The U.S. team led by Dr. Graham Reynolds from Harvard University confirmed the snake was a previously unknown species after conducting a genetic analysis of tissue samples.
Commenting on the find, boa constrictor expert Robert Henderson from the Milwaukee Museum of Natural History said, “Worldwide, new species of frogs and lizards are being discovered and described with some regularity. New species of snakes, however, are much rarer.
“Graham Reynolds and his co-authors have not only discovered and described a new species of snake but even more remarkable, a new species of boa. That’s rare, exciting, and newsworthy.
“The beautiful Bahamian silver boa, already possibly critically endangered, reminds us that important discoveries are still waiting to be made.”
The creature is said to be critically endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “Red List” criteria, and threatened by feral cats that roam the island.
Like other constricting snakes, the boa wraps its body around prey and causes death by suffocation. The staple diet of boas in the Bahamas consists of frogs, birds and rats.