New species of lizard-eating snake is named after Łódź professor after being found in misty ‘Lost World’ forest
A new species of snake found in the cloud-shrouded forests of Guyana made famous in Arthur Conan Doyle's adventure novel "The Lost World" has been named after a professor from the University of Łódź.
The previously unknown species of red-eyed snake was discovered by Prof. Philippe Kok two years ago during a National Geographic research expedition to the remote, misty forest in the highlands of western Guyana.
Publishing his research results a few days ago Professor Kok named the snake Paikwaophis kruki in a heartfelt tribute to the dean of the university’s Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection, Professor Andrzej Kruk,for "his friendship and exceptional contribution in raising the quality of research at the University of Łódź."
Described as ‘beautiful and intriguing’, the tiny 18cm-long, red-eyed reptile is the only one specimen that has been found so far.
The snake was discovered crawling among leaf litter on peat soil in a remote, pristine forest suspended among clouds, located between two sandstone table mountains: Roraima-tepui and Wei-Assipu-tepui.
The specimen was sent to Prof. Kok for identification and further analysis. After carefully examining the snake's external morphology and making a three-dimensional reconstruction of its skeleton, as well as molecular analyses, it turned out that the small snake belongs to an undescribed genus in the Dipsadidae family.
Paikwaophis kruki probably live completely or partially underground which scientists say may explain why it has never been seen before.
It spends most of its life in the soil, only coming to the surface intermittently. The new snake is not venomous and feeds on small lizards, as verified by its stomach contents.
The discovery was made in the Pantepui table mountains in a region often dubbed the "Lost World" as a nod to Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 masterpiece.
The novel narrates the escapades of explorers who chance upon a secluded realm untouched by time, looming above the jungle and shrouded in native lore rife with evil spirits, airborne reptiles, and even dinosaurs.
While Professor Kok has not discovered any dinosaurs, two years ago he found and described a new species of frog, naming it Pristimantis koki after himself.
Earlier he discovered a new species of snail also named after him as Plekocheilus philippei.
Prof. Kok, a leading field biologist, herpetologist, ecologist and evolutionary biologist has so far described 58 new taxa of amphibians and reptiles.
The results of his latest snake discovery have been published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.