A new dwarf boa species from Ecuador


    In News

    • 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.