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Scientists discover black-eyed snake species in Andes

The study's authors plan to continue studying the snake among the Andean slopes of southwestern Ecuador.

By Brooks Hays
Scientists discover black-eyed snake species in Andes
A newly discovered snake species with all-black eyes. Photo by Alexander Pyron/Pensoft

QUITO, Ecuador, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Deep in the hidden forests of the Andes are mysterious creatures still unnamed.

In a new study, published in the journal ZooKeys, biologists from George Washington University describe a new species of colubrid serpent with pitch-black eyes. Scientists say the non-venomous, brown-scaled snake is proof of the biodiversity that remains undiscovered among Central and South America's higher elevations.

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Called Synophis zaheri, the newly discovered snake is short and skinny. In their paper on the species, researchers describe the snake's distinct neck, marking the transition from slender frame and head -- a head marked by bulging all-black eyes.

The top of the snake is grayish brown, while its underside is a pale yellow. Its body is distinguished by a sharply ridged spine, with a special row of scales running lengthwise along it.

The study's authors plan to continue studying the snake among the Andean slopes of southwestern Ecuador, so to better understand the size of its local population and potential distribution. Their work may turn up more unnamed species along the way.

"Dipsadine diversity in the Andes is clearly underestimated, and new species are still being discovered in the 21st century," researchers wrote.

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