UNC Asheville Assistant Professor of Biology Graham Reynolds recently led a team from Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology in the discovery of a new species of boid snake during an expedition to a remote corner of the Bahamian Archipelago. The team has named the new species the Silver Boa, Chilabothrus argentum and will publish its findings in a paper this May in the journalBreviora.
Significantly, this is the first new species of boa discovered in situ in the Caribbean since the 1940s and brings the total known species of West Indian boas to 12. This new boa species is considered critically endangered and is one of the most endangered boa species globally.
“We found this species on its way to extinction, and now we have the opportunity to intervene on their behalf so that doesn’t happen,” said Reynolds.
The team, led by Reynolds as a Harvard Postdoctoral Fellow, first found the species in July 2015 during nocturnal surveys for reptiles on a pair of uninhabited islands. Its silver color and distinct shape suggested something new and genetic data from tissue samples, analyzed when they returned to Harvard, confirmed that it was a new species. On that first trip, they found six animals, including one that crossed directly over Reynolds’ head while he slept one night.