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Silver snake: New boa species discovered in Bahamas

Scientists are now working with local organizations in the Bahamas to develop conservation strategies to protect the species.

By Brooks Hays
Silver snake: New boa species discovered in Bahamas
The Bahamian silver boa sticks out its tongue. Researchers say the discovery of a new species of snake is quite rare. Photo by Graham Reynolds/UNC-Ashville

ASHEVILLE, N.C., May 27 (UPI) -- There's a new member of the Boidae family, the group of nonvenomous, constricting snakes found across the globe.

The latest species was discovered in the Caribbean on an island situated at the far corner of the Bahamian Archipelago. The scientists who identified it named it Chilabothrus argentum. Its common name is silver boa.

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There are now 12 species of West Indian boas -- members of the genus Epicrates.

"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," Graham Reynolds, an assistant professor of biology at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, said in a news release.

Reynolds led the team of biologists from Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology that found the snake in July 2015.

The discovery of smaller reptile species in the far reaches of the planet's forests -- tiny frogs and lizards -- are a relatively common occurrence. The discovery of a new snake species is rarer.

"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," added Robert Henderson, curator emeritus of herpetology at the Milwaukee Museum of Natural History.

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In the wake of the discovery, scientists captured and measured a total of 14 silver boa specimens. Reynolds and other scientists are now working with local organizations to develop conservation strategies to protect the species.

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