Many scientists dream of discovering new species. Not all of them imagine having that new species crawl across their face while they’re actually dreaming.
That’s what happened to biologist Graham Reynolds while he and a team of researchers were investigating the unique wildlife on tiny, uninhabited Conception Island bank in the Bahamas. Earlier that day they had spied a strange, metallic snake climbing a tree. Searches nearby revealed four more of the unusual reptiles. The sixth snake crawled across Reynolds’ face during the middle of the night while he was resting on the beach.
Genetic samples collected from the snakes revealed what they already suspected: the metallic snake was a new species, the first snake that had been discovered in the Bahamas since the 1940s.
They dubbed it the Conception Bank silver boa (Chilabothrus argentum). The discovery was described in May in the journal Breviora.
Unfortunately, the snake wasn’t the only thing the researchers found on the island. They also uncovered evidence of feral cats, which may have come to the uninhabited island on the boats of other visitors. The predatory cats, the researchers fear, pose enough of a threat that they have declared the Conception Bank silver boa to be critically endangered. They estimate that fewer than a thousand of the meter-long snakes live on the 8.5 square kilometer island and its surrounding satellite islets.
Conception Island is already a nature sanctuary, but the researchers are calling for additional protections to help keep this unique species safe from additional invasive species and other potential nightmare threats which might emerge in the future.
Previously in Extinction Countdown: