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Striking new snake species discovered in Paraguay

By: April Carson

A team of scientists in Paraguay has described a stunning new species of snake from the department of San Pedro.

The new species was discovered during a survey of reptiles and amphibians in eastern Paraguay. The team, led by herpetologist Dr. Dante Rivas, found the snake in a forest near the city of San Pedro.

The family Colubridae comprises a variety of small to medium-sized, semi- fossorial snakes known as Phalotris. The new species, Colubridae lophiophis, is a member of this family. It is a small snake, measuring only 30 cm in length.

The red, black, and yellow patterned tree snakes were first identified in 1862. They're notable for their vibrant coloration and vivid patterns.

They can be found all over the world, with the greatest concentrations in open areas of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina.

The new species of Colubridae lophiophis is distinguished by its bright red, black, and yellow coloration. The snake's head is black with two white stripes that run from the corners of its mouth to its eyes.

What sets this particular species apart from other members of its family is the presence of two dark stripes that run down its back.

The Colubridae lophiophis is a non-venomous snake that typically grows to be about 3 feet (1 meter) long. It's not considered to be a threat to humans.

Phalotris is poorly represented in museum specimens, but 15 species are recognized in three species groups: the tricolor group of five species, the bilineatus group with four species, and the nasutus group that has six members.

Phalotris shawnella, a member of the nasutus genus, was recently described.

"We found a member of the new species by accident while digging a hole at Rancho Laguna Blanca in 2014," said co-author Jean-Paul Brouard, an expert with the Paraguayan non-governmental organization Para La Tierra.

Phalotris shawnella is especially lovely and may be identified from other similar species by its crimson head, a yellow collar, a black lateral band, and orange ventral scales with irregular black dots.

It is found only in the Cerrado forests of the San Pedro province, Paraguay's northeast.

"The known two localities for Phalotris shawnella—Laguna Blanca and Colonia Volendam—are separated by just 90.5 km, suggesting a highly restricted global range in a single Paraguayan Department," the researchers added.

“Given that this is a forest species and that the area in which it may be found is an agricultural matrix undergoing constant change, we believe that this Paraguayan endemic snake requires urgent conservation efforts.”

“A species' status of Endangered fits the available data, as it is a species with an estimated range of less than 5,000 km2 and a severely fragmented presence that is known to exist at fewer than 5 locations and has been observed to decline over time.”

“The holotype was recovered at Rancho Laguna Blanca, which was formerly designated as a Natural Reserve (for a period of five years) and recognized as the first Paraguayan Important Area for the Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles because of its high herpetological diversity.”

“Urgent conservation measures are required for this new species in order to prevent its extinction."

The findings were published in the journal Zootaxa.

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About the Blogger:

April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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