Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vietnam: New snake species discovered in Kon Tum

VietNamNet Bridge - A group of Vietnamese, French and German scientists announced their discovery of a new species of stream snake in Vietnam, named Opisthotropis cucae.

A group member, Pham The Cuong, from the Vietnam Nature Museum, said that the snake was found at the Chu Mon Ray National Park in Sa Thay district, Kon Tum province in the Central Highlands.

The stream snakes of the genus Opisthotropis have speciated in many of the streams to become localized endemics. There are 19 species in the genus most of which have not been researched. Most are found in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia but species occur from Sumatra to the Philippines.

Most probably eat fish, but a few eat crustaceans, and it seems likely that some are more aquatic than others - spending most of their lives in the water and perhaps leaving the water only to lay their eggs.

Patrick David at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle and colleagues have now described Opisthotropis cucae based on an adult female, from Chu Mom Ray National Park, Sa Thay District, Kon Tum Province, Vietnam. The snake was found at 740 m above sea level in secondary evergreen forest and was collected at night (21:30) under water in a rocky stream. The new species is named in honor of Mrs Ho Thu Cuc at the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources in Hanoi, for having collected the holotype and for her long lasting contributions to the herpetology of Vietnam. This is the seventh species of Opisthotropis known from Vietnam.

In late December 2010, Vietnamese and Russian scientists also discovered the specimens of two rare snake species in Hoang Lien mount in Lao Cai province, named Oligodon lacroixi and Maculophis bellus chapaensis. In the last 80 years, no specimen of these species have been found in the world.

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