Silver Boa Snake Species Discovered in Bahamas

Posted on June 3, 2016

Silver Boa Chilabothrus argentum

Scientists have found a new boa snake species in a remote corner of the Bahamian Archipelago. The research team was led by Graham Reynolds, a UNC Asheville Assistant Professor.

The snake was found on an uninhabited island located in the southern Bahamas. It is the first new boa species discovered in the Caribbean since the 1940s. The scientists thought the snake was a new species because of its unique ilver color and distinct shape. Genetic data from tissue samples analyzed back at Harvard confirmed that it was a new species. The scientists found six boas on their first trip. This including one Silver Boa that crossed directly over Reynolds' head while he slept one night.

Robert Henderson, curator emeritus of herpetology at the Milwaukee Museum of Natural History, and a leading expert on boas, says in a statement, "Worldwide, new species of frogs and lizards are being discovered and described with some regularity. New species of snakes, however, are much rarer. Graham Reynolds and his co-authors have not only discovered and described a new species of snake, but even more remarkable, a new species of boa. That's rare, exciting, and newsworthy. The beautiful Bahamian Silver Boa, already possibly critically endangered, reminds us that important discoveries are still waiting to be made, and it provides the people of the Bahamas another reason to be proud of the natural wonders of their island nation."

A research paper on the newly discovered boa, Chilabothrus argentum, was published here in the journal, Breviora. The Silver Boa is considered to be extremely endangered. National Geographic reports that there are thought to be only around one thousand of the snakes.

Photo: R. Graham Reynolds