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Snake Species New to Science Discovered In Central Panama

The snake is common in the Parque Nacional General de División Omar Torrijos Herrera.

A snake that has been hiding in plain since 1977 since it was first documented in 1977 has been described as a species new to science. The new snake s

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A snake that has been hiding in plain since 1977 since it was first documented in 1977 has been described as a species new to science. The new snake species, Dipsas aparatiritos was first documented by Dr. Charles Myers, who studied reptiles and amphibians in Panama. It feeds on snails, slugs and earthworms and is part of the family Dipsas. The name aparatiritos, means unnoticed, due to the fact that the reptile has been hidden in plain sight for more than 40 years. The proposed English name of the species is hidden snail-eating snake. The proposed Spanish name is Caracolera Escondida.

Research scientists Dr. Julie Ray of the University of Nevada-Reno, and her colleagues Paola Sánchez-Martínez, Abel Batista, Daniel G. Mulcahy, Coleman M. Sheehy III, Eric N. Smith, R. Alexander Pyron and Alejandro Arteaga conducted DNA analysis to determine that the snake was indeed a species new to science.

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Dipsas aparatiritos, snake species

Four individuals of Dipsas aparatiritos sp. nov. intertwined on one plant at Parque Nacional General de División Omar Torrijos Herrera. Photograph by Noah Carl

According to the researchers, the snake has a bulbous head and brown and black coloration and patterns that are evident in other snakes in the genus. It is similar in appearance to its Panamanian cousin Dipsas temporalis, but Dipsas aparatiritos ranges from the western and central portions of Panama. The snake is brown with white bands and has big eyes. The coloration is similar to that of a California kingsnake. The snout to vent length ranges from 328 to 424mm for females that was examined to 310 to 465mm for males. In total the researchers examined 19 specimens.


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Said co-author Dr. Alex Pyron of the George Washington University; “That was my first trip to Central America. We were able to see the after-effects of the amphibian declines. But I was struck by the diversity and abundance of snakes that were still present, including this species of snail-eater we have just described, the rare Geophis bellus [a small leaf litter snake known from just one specimen prior to this discovery] and an unusual coral snake.”

New Snake Species

The snake is common in the Parque Nacional General de División Omar Torrijos Herrera. It apparently has been studied for years without being described. The species is considered to be near threat4ened by the IUCN Red List, and is endemic to Panama. It comes from a region where the scientists estimate that 44 percent of the range has been subject to deforestation.

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The complete paper describing Dipsas aparatiritos, “A new species of Dipsas (Serpentes, Dipsadidae) from central Panama” can be read on the open access journal Zookeys.