Foot-long dwarf boa found in Ecuadorian Amazon

Scientists have identified a tiny new species of dwarf boa living in the Ecuadorian Amazon that even a snake hater could love: These small reptiles are just a foot long.

Alex Bentley, research coordinator of the Sumak Kawsay In Situ field station in the eastern foothills of the Andes, stumbled across a small, curled up snake in a patch of cloud

forest, an upland forest where clouds filter through the treetops. He sent a photo of the snake to colleagues, including Omar Entiauspe-Neto, a graduate student at the

Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and Butantan Institute in Brazil. ‘Radically different’ “We were immediately surprised, because it shouldn’t be there,” said

Entiauspe-Neto, the corresponding author of the paper describing the species in the European Journal of Taxonomy. Like its fellow dwarf boas, T. cacuangoae is distantly

related to the bigger boa constrictor. - Danilo Medina Other dwarf boas have been identified elsewhere in South America and the West Indies, but none had ever been found in

the region where Bentley spotted this one. The closest known match in Ecuador lives west of the Andes, and, according to Entiauspe-Neto, it looks “radically different” from the

specimen in Bentley’s photo. While the snake didn’t match any known species of dwarf boas, it had a lot in common with a specimen in the Ecuadorian Museum of Natural

Sciences collected several years ago. “We’re usually afraid to describe new species based on only a single one, because there’s a chance that there might be some sort of

variation,” Entiauspe-Neto said. “Once we had those two specimens, we were fairly sure they were a new species.”