New species of Amazon anaconda, world’s largest snake, discovered

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New species of Amazon anaconda, world's largest snake, discovered

The world’s largest snake species, the giant green anaconda, was found by researchers in Ecuador’s rainforest. It split off from its closest relatives 10 million years ago, but they still have almost the same look now.

The size of these 20-foot-long (6.1-meter-long) reptiles can be seen in a web video featuring Dutch biologist Freek Vonk, one of the researchers, diving next to a massive 200-kilo (441-pound) example.

The scientific journal Diversity this month stated that the new “northern green anaconda” belongs to a different, new species, Eunectes Akiyama. Previously, it was believed that there was only one species of green anaconda in the wild, the Eunectes murinus.

“What we were there to do was use the anacondas as an indicator species for what kind of damage is being done by the oil spills plaguing the Yasuni in Ecuador, because the oil extraction is absolutely out of control,” said researcher Bryan G. Fry.

According to Fry, an Australian biology professor at the University of Queensland who has spent almost two decades studying South American anaconda species, the discovery enables them to show that the two species split from one another approximately 10 million years ago.
“But the amazing part was, despite this genetic difference, and their long period of divergence, the two animals are completely identical,” he stated.

A 5.5% genetic difference was found, which startled the scientists despite the superficial similarities between green anaconda snakes.

“Which is an incredible amount of genetic difference, particularly when you put it in the context that we’re only 2% different from chimpanzees,” Fry stated.

According to Fry, anacondas are extremely valuable sources of information on the ecological health of the area and the possible effects of oil spills on human health.

He said that the anacondas and arapaima fish are accumulating significant amounts of the petrochemical metals and that some of the snakes they studied in some locations of Ecuador were severely polluted by oil spills.

“That means that if arapaima fish are accumulating these oil spill metals, that they need to be avoided by pregnant women, just like women avoid salmon and tuna and other parts of the world for fear of methylmercury,” he stated.

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