April 17, 2024


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'A staggering 20 feet long' – Scientists have discovered a new species of giant snake in the remote Amazon

'A staggering 20 feet long' – Scientists have discovered a new species of giant snake in the remote Amazon

Scientists have discovered a new species of giant anaconda, the northern green anaconda, in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This discovery was made during an expedition called by the Waorani people. The team's findings highlight the genetic uniqueness of this species and the environmental threats facing the Amazon, underscoring the urgent need for conservation efforts. Credit: Jesus Rivas

A team of on-site scientists with a film crew in the remote Amazon region has discovered something previously undocumented Classify Of giant anaconda.

Professor Brian Fry from the University of Queensland led a team that captured and studied several specimens of the newly named northern green anaconda (Eunectes Akayima)It is located in the Bameno region of the Paihuairi and Orani region in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

“Our team received a rare invitation from the Waorani people to explore the area and collect specimens from the anaconda population, rumored to be the largest ever known,” Professor Fry said. “The indigenous hunters took us into the jungle on a 10-day expedition to search for these snakes, which they consider sacred. We paddled our canoes down the river system, and were lucky enough to find several anacondas lurking in the shallow waters, waiting for prey. The scale of these creatures was magnificent.” “Unbelievable – the female anaconda we encountered was 6.3 meters (20.7 ft) long. There are anecdotal reports from the Waorani people of other anacondas in the area that were more than 7.5 meters (24.6 ft) long and weighed around 500 kilograms (1,100 lbs).”

Eunectes akayima chief

Northern green anaconda. Credit: Brian Fry

Professor Fry said the northern green anaconda species diverged from the southern green anaconda approximately 10 million years ago, and differed genetically by 5.5 per cent.

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“It's very important — to put it in perspective, humans differ from chimpanzees by only about 2 percent,” he said. “This discovery is the highlight of my career.”

Collaboration and conservation concerns

The new anaconda species was found during filming with National Geographic Channel for its upcoming Disney+ series From Pole to Pole with Will Smithwhere Professor Fry, a National Geographic explorer, was the scientific leader of the expedition.

“Our journey into the heart of the Amazon, facilitated by an invitation from the Waorani chief, Binti Baihua, was a true cross-cultural endeavour,” he said. “The importance of our Waorani collaborators is recognized as co-authors on the paper.”

Eunectes akayima breeding ball

Eunectes akayima breeding ball. Credit: Jesus Rivas

Scientists also set out to compare the genetics of the green anaconda with specimens collected elsewhere by world-leading anaconda expert Dr. Jesus Rivas of New Mexico Highlands University, and use it as an indicator species for ecosystem health.

Professor Fry said the Amazon still faced alarming environmental threats.

“Deforestation in the Amazon Basin due to agricultural expansion has led to the loss of an estimated 20 to 31 percent of habitat, which could affect up to 40 percent of its forests by 2050,” he said. “Another growing problem is the degradation of natural habitats due to land fragmentation, driven by industrial agriculture and heavy metal pollution associated with spills from oil extraction activities. Wildfires, drought and climate change also pose notable threats. These rare anacondas, and other species that share this Remote ecosystem, big challenges.

Professor Fry said his next research project will focus on heavy metal pollution in the Amazon region.

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“It is not only these giant snakes that face environmental threats, but almost all living creatures in the region,” he said. “The discovery of a new species of anaconda is exciting, but it is crucial to highlight the urgent need for further research into these threatened species and ecosystems.
Of particular urgency is research into how petrochemicals from oil spills affect the fertility and reproductive biology of these rare snakes and other keystone species in the Amazon.

Reference: “Deconstructing the Anaconda: Revealing New Greens and Rethinking Yellow” by Jesús A. Rivas, Paula de la Quintana, Marco Mancuso, Luis F. Pacheco, Gilson A. Rivas, Sandra Marioto, David Salazar Valenzuela, Marcelo Tepiña Paehua, Binti Paehua, Gordon M. Burghardt, Frick J. Funk, Emil Hernandez, Juan Elias García Pérez, Brian J. Fry, and Sarah Corey Rivas, February 15, 2024, diversity.
doi: 10.3390/d16020127