886 American snake species, new research


This 2013 video says about itself:

Our encounter with the South American Aquatic Coral Snake, also known as “Micrurus Ssrinamensis” in the Madidi Jungle National Park, Amazon Basin, Bolivia.

Don’t always go with the red to yellow, kill a fellow / red to black friend of Jack rhyme. That is true only for snakes found in North America, in South America Coral Snakes can have different patterns.

The Coral native to this region can be identified by the pattern of a black triad surrounding two yellow bands with red separating each triad. Also the bands should go all around the body.

The Aquatic Coral Snake (Micrurus surinamensis) is found throughout the Amazon including the Guianas, Brazil, Bolivia, Suriname. It is also called the coral “venenosa” in Bolivia, and the “boichumbeguacu” in Brazil. This species is one of the most famous South American coral snakes, and one of the biggest too (80 to 100 cm).

The Surinamensis is a very good swimmer, and spends most of its life in slow-moving bodies of water that have dense vegetation.

Coral Snakes are usually red with black bands bordered by white (or yellow) at intervals, yet not all Coral Snakes are tricolor. The eyes of the venomous tricolor Corals are very small, in contrast with the larger eyes of the nonpoisonous tricolor false corals. Coral snakes are generally not very aggressive snakes, but it would, however, be very dangerous to step on one inadvertently, especially with bare feet.

The venom of all coral snakes is strongly neurotoxic, it affects the nervous system and can cause respiratory paralysis and suffocation. These venoms are among the most potent found in snakes, yet the venom yield per animal is less than that of most vipers or pit vipers. In Mexico Coral Snakes are known as the “20-minute snakes,” for the victim is supposed to be dead 20 minutes after being bitten by one. Corals being burrowing snakes though, few accidents are actually caused by them.

From the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Germany:

150 years of snake collections: Data bank proves rich snake diversity in the neotropics

November 24, 2017

An international team made up of scientists from Brazil, Australia, USA, Ecuador, Germany and Sweden has published the results of an extensive database constructed for snakes of the American tropics. This database is made up of museum collections from the past 150 years and demonstrates that some Neotropical regions, such as the Cerrado in central Brazil, contain a disproportionately high diversity. Furthermore, some other diverse regions are disproportionally under sampled, such as the Amazon. For the first time all factors, such as distribution patterns, collection records and frequency of occurrence are recorded from a total of 147,515 contributions to 886 snake species. Thus, the database covers 74 per cent of all snake species from 27 countries. The database, which has been so far unique in this form, will serve as a solid basis for conservation concepts, to biodiversity and evolution models in the future, as well as to design research agendas. The study was recently published in the journal “Global Ecology and Biogeography”.

About 10,500 species of reptiles (animals such as lizards and snakes) are found around the world and about 150 to 200 new species are also discovered every year. Snakes make up about 34 percent of this group of animals. “We assume that there are still many snake species that we still do not know. However, the identification of areas poorly-sampled, where probably new species can be found, must come from data and mapping of the known species” explains leading author Dr. Thaís Guedes from the University of Gothenburg and adds: “We realize that the very rich Amazonian area is, for example, one of the least explored areas.

Most of the area is of high inaccessibility, the low investments in local research sum to relative shortage of experts to explore this huge area explain this result. Besides that, the centers of research, as scientific collections, are limited to the geographic area of major cities and universities.”

The international group of scientists have collected data about snake collections of the Neotropics — South and Central America, the West Indies and the southern part of Mexico and Florida — to record the diversity of snake species, their distribution, as well as their threats. The result is a unique database with 147,515 entries for 886 snake species from 12 families. Senior author of the study Alexandre Antonelli from the University of Gothenburg is pleased: “We have published one of the largest and most detailed surveys on the distribution of snakes — one of the most species-rich reptile groups in the world! What an achievement!”

The huge dataset is the result of a merger of a public database, which was examined by experts in the course of this study and the collection data of various international taxonomists.

Another of the study’s authors, Dr. Martin Jansen from the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, says: “The review by taxonomic experts has greatly enhanced the data. One could say that the data bank now has a kind of quality mark, something like ‘taxonomically verified’. This is very important, as biodiversity models often lack this in-deepth taxonomic expertise.”

The results from this most comprehensive and novel database also highlight the necessity to better sample, explore, and protect areas of high diversity, as well as rare species. “Our database provides the ideal basis, and it can now be used by other scientists (without taxonomic expertise) as a solid basis for subsequent models, for example, on evolutionary patterns or climate change effects”, explains Guedes.

Biologists are studying the mechanics of snake movement to understand exactly how they can propel themselves forward like a train through a tunnel: here.

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