Scientists develop new coffee snake species in Ecuador

Credit: Jose Vieira

In the cloud forests of northwestern Ecuador, researchers from the Khamai Foundation and Liberty University have uncovered a new species of snake, a discovery that shines a light on the rich biodiversity of this region.

The snake, found in Ecuador’s Pichincha province by biologist Alejandro Arteaga, represents the 30th species he has discovered on his quest to identify 100 new species.

Dubbed Tudors’s Coffee-Snake (Ninia guytudori), this new species is named after Guy Tudor, a renowned naturalist and scientific illustrator celebrated for his contributions to the conservation of South American birds through his art.

This discovery not only honors Tudor’s legacy but also aims to raise awareness and funds for conservation efforts, such as those supporting the Buenaventura Reserve.

Tudors’s Coffee-Snake often resides in coffee plantations, stepping in as a makeshift habitat where its original cloud forest environment has been destroyed.

It is endemic to the Pacific slopes of the Andes in northwestern Ecuador, thriving at elevations between 1,000 and 1,500 meters above sea level.

Despite not facing immediate extinction threats, the species is likely at risk due to deforestation caused by logging and large-scale mining activities.

When feeling threatened, Tudors’s Coffee-Snake has a distinctive behavior of flattening its body and tail, a tactic aimed at deterring predators.

This behavior, along with its unique habitat preferences, underscores the importance of preserving the cloud forest ecosystems and the modified habitats that surround them, such as coffee plantations and pastures.

The discovery of this new species is a call to action for the conservation of one of Ecuador’s most vital ecosystems.

By highlighting the existence of species like Tudors’s Coffee-Snake, researchers hope to emphasize the critical need for research and protection efforts focused on the cloud forests and the surrounding human-modified landscapes.

The research findings can be found in Evolutionary Systematics.

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