New Anaconda Species, Eunectes Akiyama, Discovered

Scientists have discovered a new species of the world’s largest snake, the green anaconda, in Ecuador’s rainforest. The new species, named Eunectes Akiyama, is genetically distinct from its closest relative, Eunectes Murinus, but looks almost identical to it.

What is Eunectes Akiyama?

Eunectes Akiyama is a new species of green anaconda that was discovered by a team of researchers led by Dutch biologist Freek Vonk in the Amazon. The researchers were studying the impact of oil spills on the ecological health of the region and used anacondas as an indicator species. They found that some of the snakes they encountered belonged to a different species than the one previously known, Eunectes Murinus.

The new species, Eunectes Akiyama, is named after Japanese herpetologist Masahito Akiyama, who contributed to the study. The researchers published their findings in the scientific journal Diversity in February 2024.

How is Eunectes Akiyama different from Eunectes Murinus?

Eunectes Akiyama and Eunectes Murinus are both green anacondas, the world’s largest snake species. They can grow up to 6.1 meters (20 feet) long and weigh up to 200 kilograms (441 pounds). They are both semi-aquatic predators that feed on large prey such as deer, caimans and capybaras.

However, despite their similar appearance, the two species are genetically different by 5.5%, which is a significant amount considering that humans are only 2% different from chimpanzees. The researchers estimate that the two species diverged from each other about 10 million years ago.

Why is Eunectes Akiyama important?

Eunectes Akiyama is important for several reasons. First, it adds to the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest, which is home to more than 10% of the world’s species. Second, it helps us understand the evolutionary history and biogeography of green anacondas, which are poorly studied due to their elusive and secretive nature. Third, it raises awareness about the threats facing these snakes and their habitat from oil extraction, deforestation and illegal hunting.

Eunectes Akiyama is also important for human health, as it reveals that some of the anacondas and arapaima fish in the region are accumulating petrochemical metals from oil spills. These metals can pose risks to pregnant women and children who consume these animals or drink contaminated water.

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