A strikingly beautiful burrowing snake has recently been discovered in Paraguay, South America. According to a study published in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution, the reptile has been described as a non-venomous member of the genus Phalotris. It has been detected in just two places so far in the land-locked South American republic.
Scientists have named the newly discovered snake “Phaloris shawnella,” after two children, Shawn Ariel Fernández and Ella Bethany Atkinson, who are credited with encouraging the non-profit to fight for endangered wildlife in Paraguay.
The snake is considered a fossorial species, meaning it spends most of its time digging and hunting just under the surface of the soil in its environment. It has a red head in combination with a yellow band around the neck, which is followed by black lateral bans and black-spotted orange scales on its belly.
The authors of the paper believe that the reptile is endangered because only three individual snakes have been found so far and in only two areas in San Pedro province in Eastern Paraguay. It has been found at Laguna Blanca – a tourist destination – and Colonia Volendam. Of the three snakes, only one was actually captured for the study, while the other two escaped.
According to Newsweek, the authors said that the recent discovery “demonstrates once again the need to protect the natural environment in this region of Paraguay”. They went on to add that Laguna Blanca was designated as a Nature Reserve for a period of 5 years, however, currently, it has no protection at all. “The preservation of this site should be considered a national priority for conservation,” they said.
The authors also informed that the Phalotris genus features at least 15 species of snakes distributed in the vast Cerrado savanna eco-region that extends from Brazil and into Paraguay. It is to mention that the Cerrado region is known for its sandy soils and the area is being developed for agriculture and cattle ranching at a fast pace, endangering the natural environment.