Five New Species of Eyelash Vipers Discovered in Colombia and Ecuador

Posted on February 13, 2024

Rahim's Eyelash-Pitviper

Five new species of eyelash vipers have been discovered by scientists in the jungles and cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador. The scientists were led by researchers of the Khamai Foundation.

Eyelash vipers are named for a set of enlarged spine-like scales positioned atop their eyes. The researchers say the purpose of the feature is unknown but it does give them a fierce look.

The eyelash vipers are also polychromatic. Alejandro Arteaga, who led the study, says, "No two individuals have the same coloration, even those belonging to the same litter (yes, they give birth to live young)."

Lucas Bustamante, a co-author of the study, was bitten in the finger by the Rahim's Eyelash-Pitviper (pictured above) while taking its pictures during a research expedition. He says, "I experienced intermittent local pain, dizziness and swelling, but recovered shortly after receiving three doses of antivenom in less than two hours after the bite, with no scar left behind." Bustamante also says, "The venom of some (perhaps all?) of the new species of vipers is considerably less lethal and hemorrhagic than that of the typical Central American Eyelash-Viper."

Two of the new species of vipers, the Rahim's Eyelash-Pitviper (Bothriechis rahimi) and the Hussain’s Eyelash-Pitviper (B. hussaini - pictured below), are named in honor of Prince Hussain Aga Khan and Prince Rahim Aga Khan, respectively.

A study about the discovery was published in Evolutionary Systematics.

Hussain’s Eyelash-Pitviper

Image: Alejandro Arteaga

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