The researchers say the snake lives in a fairly dense forest environment with small to medium trees and occasional large trees.
A new species of snake was discovered and described by scientists in the Pantepui cloud forests of Guyana. The snake, Paikwaophis kruki is described as rare and was placed in a new genus. The researchers say that the small dipsadid-like snake has such a unique external morphology that they couldn’t place it within any known Colubroidea genus.
“To assess the molecular phylogenetic position of this enigmatic snake, we estimated maximum likelihood (ML) and Bayesian phylogenies for a representative set of Dipsadidae using a multi-gene alignment including our specimen,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “We also µCT-scanned (µCT = micro-computed tomography) and analysed the osteology of the putative new taxon. Based on these data, we conclude that this peculiar snake should be described as a new genus and a new species of Dipsadidae (Xenodontinae), namely Paikwaophis kruki.”
The holotype, a female, measured 180mm total length with a yellowish cream colored head and rounded snout. Black pigment surrounds the nostrils and small black specks dot the head. The back is a yellowish butterscotch coloration and a black line runs from the neck area down the back to the tail. The side is black with a whitish blue coloration separating the side from the belly, which appears brown.
The researchers say the snake lives in a fairly dense forest environment with small to medium trees and occasional large trees. The floor is covered with leaf litter. It features a skull that the researchers say is conducive to burrowing, and feeds on lizards, based on the content of the holotype’s gut.
Paikwaophis kruki Information
The complete paper,”Hiding in the mists: molecular phylogenetic position and description of a new genus and species of snake (Dipsadidae: Xenodontinae) from the remote cloud forest of the Lost World” can be read on the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society website.