Huge new species of anaconda discovered in the Amazon rainforest

Professor Brian Fry/University of Queensland

A team of scientists went to observe the anaconda, which is rumored to be the largest ever.

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Scientists working in the Amazon rainforest have discovered a new species of snake, rumored to be the largest in the world.

A team from the University of Queensland traveled to the Ecuadorian Amazon to search for the previously undocumented northern green anaconda (Eunectes akayima), following a call from the Waorani people to observe the anaconda “rumored to be the largest in existence,” according to scientists. .

The team joined the fishermen on a 10-day expedition to the Bameno area in Baihoiri Waorani territory, before paddling the river system “to find numerous anacondas lurking in the shallow waters, lying in wait for prey,” said Professor Brian Fry, a biologist from the University of California. The University of Queensland, which led the team, said in a statement.

Anacondas are giant, non-venomous constricted snakes found in or near waters in warm parts of South America.

“The size of these magnificent creatures was unbelievable, with the female anaconda we encountered measuring 6.3 meters (20.7 feet) long,” Fry said of the team’s discovery, which was made while filming the upcoming National Geographic series “Pole to Pole with Will.” Smith.”

The team also said they had heard anecdotal evidence of sightings of snakes measuring 7.5 meters (24.6 feet) and 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) in length in the area.

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The green anaconda is the world's heaviest snake, according to the UK's Natural History Museum, which notes that the heaviest individual ever recorded weighed 227 kilograms (500 pounds). It is 8.43 meters (27.7 ft) long and 1.11 meters (3.6 ft) wide.
While another species, the reticulated python, tends to be longer – often reaching more than 6.25 meters (20.5 feet) in length – it is lighter.

Professor Brian Fry/University of Queensland

The discovery was made while filming a series for the National Geographic Channel.

But experts studying the creatures discovered that the newly identified northern green anaconda species diverged from the southern green anaconda nearly 10 million years ago, and they differ genetically by 5.5 percent.

“It's very important — to put it in perspective, humans differ from chimpanzees by only about 2 percent,” Fry said. The results are described in the journal MDPI diversity.

The team then set out to compare the genetics of the green anaconda with other specimens elsewhere to evaluate it as an indicator species for the health of ecosystems, and they warned that the Amazon faces many threats.

“Deforestation of the Amazon Basin due to agricultural expansion has led to the loss of an estimated 20 to 31 percent of habitat, which could affect up to 40 percent of its forests by 2050,” Fry said.

He added that habitat degradation, forest fires, drought and climate change threaten rare species such as anacondas that are found in such rare ecosystems.

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