Three New Snake Species Found Under Churches and Graveyards in Ecuador

Snakes caught being carried by young adults at Ben-Gurion Airport, August 29, 2022

Three new cryptozoic (ground) snakes have been discovered under churches and graveyards in the Andes mountains range of Ecuador by a group of scientists as shown in a report published last Thursday.

Graveyards in the Ecuadorian Andes are not only home to the deceased but are inhabited by ground snakes from the genus Atractus, which includes roughly 146 species. Although few have actually seen snakes belonging to this genus, it contains the most species in the world.

“Unlike other snake genera inhabiting the same mountain ranges, snakes in the genus Atractus inhabiting remote cloud forests and inter-Andean valleys are generally considered rare,” writes Alejandro Arteaga, lead author of the study published in the peer-reviewed journal ZooKeys.

“All of this suggests that Atractus in general, with the exception of some locally abundant species, are difficult to find,” he said. “Thus, species inhabiting poorly visited areas may remain undetected without long-term projects focused on cryptozoic herpetofauna.”

That being said, the newly discovered ground snakes were living in crypts, somewhere one would not expect to find them. One of the new species, called Atractus discovery, was found underground in a graveyard in a remote cloud forest town in southeastern Ecuador. The remaining two new species were found next to a small school and an old church.

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SOURCE: The Jerusalem Post, Sara Weinstein