- Scientists have discovered a new species of dwarf boa in the Ecuadoran Amazon and named it after an Indigenous activist.
About Dwarf Boa
- The snake from the Tropidophiidae family was found in the cloud forest in northeastern Ecuador and was up to 20 centimetres long.
- Tropidophis cacuangoae can be identified from other reptiles in the same genus based on its external features and bone structure.
- The scientists found two verified specimens of the species.
- Its colouring is primarily light brown with darker brown or black blotches — similar to a boa constrictor.
- The species inhabits eastern tropical piedmont and lower evergreen montane forests in the Amazon tropical rainforest biome and the researchers suspect it to be an Ecuadorian endemic.
- The species is unusual for having a “vestigial pelvis”, which is characteristic of primitive snakes.
- This could be evidence that snakes descended from lizards that lost their limbs over millions of years.
- History of naming: The snake’s name honours Dolores Cacuango, an early 20th-century pioneer in the fight for indigenous and farmers’ rights in Ecuador.
Significance of the discovery
- The discovery of T cacuangoae demonstrates that small and cryptic vertebrates can undergo large periods of time without being detected and formally describe by science.
- The discovery of this new species highlights a critical need to accelerate research in remote areas where information gaps remain but are suspected of harbouring high biodiversity and are severely threatened by human impacts.