Talamancan Palm-Pitviper: Latest species to join the slithering reptiles discovered

Talamancan Palm-Pitviper: Latest species to join the slithering reptiles discovered

 Would accidentally stumbling upon a snake make you jump with joy? The new species that had gone unnoticed for more than 100 years, are striking green-and-black reptiles living in the most remote regions of Costa Rica.

They are small to medium sized pitvipers, are relatively slender and are found in trees where they are brilliantly camouflaged owing to their green and black colour, which they share with the Black-Speckled Palm-Pitviper. A medium-sized snake, with a thin body. Its back has a green base color with black spots; its iris has a blackish color. Its appearance is similar to Bothriechis nigroviridis, but it has certain morphological characteristics that differentiate it from B. nigroviridis. Among them: a combination of 150 – 160 ventral scales (139 – 146 B. nigroviridis), supraocular thin scales, often kidney-shaped, with a wide interorbital space, and an higher average number of intrarectal, dorsal and subcaudal scales. It is also different from B. schlegelli and B. supraciliaris due to the absence of supraciliary scales. The Pitviper is an arboreal snake found only in Costa Rica, from the north and central parts of the Cordillera de Talamanca, to the provinces of San Jose, Cartago, and Limon. It can be found in altitudes between 2400 and 3000 m above sea level, in the transition area between the cloud forest and the montane rainforest. In fact, these two species look so similar, which explains why the Talamancan Palm-Pitviper went unrecognized for over 100 years. It is a case of cryptic speciation, where two species look almost identical, but are genetically different. Researchers are now interested in seeing how the ᴠᴇɴᴏᴍ of this new species compares to other palm-pitvipers, especially the black-speckled palm-pitviper because of the similarities between the two species.

A large snake might reach about 30 inches, but most are less than 24 inches. Scientists believe their habitat to include only 100 km area in the north of the Talamancan Cordillera of Costa Rica. What other species are yet to be found and how they might benefit mankind?

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