<em>Paikwaophis kruki</em>, A New Snake Species From Guyana Described

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Paikwaophis kruki, A New Snake Species From Guyana Described

Paikwaophis kruki lives in the Pantepui cloud forests, feeding on lizards.

The researchers say the snake lives in a fairly dense forest environment with small to medium trees and occasional large trees.

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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.

Paikwaophis kruki

Paikwaophis kruki lives in the Pantepui cloud forests, feeding on lizards.

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“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.