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New 'horned' snake species discovered

January 9, 2012
Wildlife Conservation Society
Biologists have announced the discovery of a spectacularly colored snake from a remote area of Tanzania in East Africa.

WCS and the Museo delle Scienze of Trento, Italy discover a spectacularly colored new snake. Named Matilda’s horned viper, the snake is restricted to remote forest in southwest Tanzania.
Credit: © Tim Davenport/WCS

A 7-year-old girl in Tanzania is now the proud namesake of a new snake.

Tim Davenport, Director of WCS's Tanzania Program, named the recently discovered and spectacularly colored viper from a remote area of the East African country for his little girl. The striking black-and-yellow snake is called Matilda's horned viper. It measures 2.1 feet and has horn-like scales above its eyes.

The discovery is described in the December issue of Zootaxa. Authors of the study include Michele Menegon of Museo delle Scienze of Trento, Italy; WCS's Tim Davenport; and Kim Howell of the University of Dar es Salaam.

The authors are keeping the exact location of the new species a secret, since the snake could be of interest to illegal pet collectors. Its habitat, estimated at only a few square miles, is already severely degraded from logging and charcoal manufacture. The authors expect the species will be classified as critically endangered and have already established a small captive breeding colony.

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Materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Michele Menegon, Tim R. Davenport and Kim M. Howell. Description of a new and critically endangered species of Atheris (Serpentes: Viperidae) from the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, with an overview of the country’s tree viper fauna. Zootaxa, 3120: 43%u201354 (06 Dec. 2011)

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