New snake species discovered in Venezuela


Lepidoblepharis montecanoensis

By Anthony Watt in the USA:

MOLINE, Ill. — There is a snake wandering around northwestern Venezuela named after a 14-year-old Quad Cities boy.

It’s called the Paraguanan blue whiptail, but the snake’s proper name is Atractus matthewi.

The boy’s is Matthew Markezich.

It’s his father’s doing. Allan Markezich, 57, is the snake’s discoverer.

“I do research on evolution, ecology and biological diversity in the tropics,” said Markezich, a biology professor at Black Hawk College.

That sentence sums up a career that involves tramping around the Western Hemisphere — mainly Venezuela — since the late 1980s, studying reptiles and amphibians and trying to conserve their habitat.

Atractus matthewi probably does not have a common name, Markezich said.

It’s a secretive ground-dwelling animal that tends to live in cover in an isolated mountain range in northeast Venezuela.

“You don’t see this kind of snake often,” the 57-year-old said.

And there are other South American species that owe their human names to Markezich.

The first was a tiny lizard — a dwarf gecko.

Its Latin moniker, Lepidoblepharis montecanoensis, might be bigger than it is.

“That is the first animal I ever collected, and it was this species,” he said.

It’s one of the smallest geckos in the world, Markezich said.

It’s also critically endangered, existing in a habitat only a few hundred acres across.

And the threat of extinction for this animal, and others, is one of the reasons Markezich wanders.

“There’s a lot of extinction going on,” he said, “I think that’s what motivates me more than anything.”

Does the snake live in northeast or northwest Venezuela, as the article contradicts itself here?

Talking about Venezuela: Venezuelan dancing devils.

4 thoughts on “New snake species discovered in Venezuela

  1. Pingback: New rabbit species discovery in Suriname | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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