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Lazy predator: A new species of mountain pitviper from China

Date:
June 13, 2024
Source:
Pensoft Publishers
Summary:
Researchers have discovered a new species of medium-sized venomous snake in Yunnan, China. Ovophis jenkinsi is dark brownish-grey in color with trapezoidal patches on its back. It is endemic to China's Yingjiang County and is not difficult to find in the wild. In the future, researchers plan to collect more information about this new species, including its appearance, distribution, and habits.
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Yunnan, China is a biodiversity hotspot, with many new reptile species discovered in the region in recent years. It is also where a research team from China found a new species of medium-sized venomous snake, known as a mountain pit viper.

"We checked specimens of the [snake] genus Ovophis collected by Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beijing Forestry University in Yingjiang, Yunnan in 2008, and found that these specimens were different from all known similar species. We collected some new specimens from Yingjiang in 2023 and finally determined that this population represents a new species!" the researchers explained.

The new species was named Ovophis jenkinsi in honour of herpetologist Robert "Hank" William Garfield Jenkins AM (September 1947−September 2023), who had "a passion for snakes, especially pit vipers, and helped China, along with many Asian countries, complete snake census, conservation, and management projects," the team writes in their study, which was published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

Ovophis jenkinsi is generally dark brownish-grey, but some individuals can be deep orange-brown, and has trapezoidal patches on its back. "It is usually slow-moving but shows great aggression when disturbed," the researchers explain after observing the snake's behaviour. "When threatened, these snakes inflate their bodies to make themselves appear larger and strike quickly."

There are no records to date of humans being bitten by this species.

Like many other species, this snake is endemic to China's Yingjiang County, which means it is currently found only there. "It is not difficult to find this species in the wild, they are active mainly in the autumn and prefer cool, humid, and even rainy nights, probably to avoid competition with other snakes," the researchers say, suggesting it might feed on small mammals.

"We will be collecting more information about O. jenkinsi in the future, including their appearance, distribution, and habits, to improve our understanding of this species," the researchers say in conclusion.


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Journal Reference:

  1. Xian-Chun Qiu, Jin-Ze Wang, Zu-Yao Xia, Zhong-Wen Jiang, Yan Zeng, Nan Wang, Pi-Peng Li, Jing-Song Shi. A new mountain pitviper of the genus Ovophis Burger in Hoge & Romano-Hoge, 1981 (Serpentes, Viperidae) from Yunnan, China. ZooKeys, 2024; 1203: 173 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.1203.119218

Cite This Page:

Pensoft Publishers. "Lazy predator: A new species of mountain pitviper from China." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2024. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/06/240611130311.htm>.
Pensoft Publishers. (2024, June 13). Lazy predator: A new species of mountain pitviper from China. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 17, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/06/240611130311.htm
Pensoft Publishers. "Lazy predator: A new species of mountain pitviper from China." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/06/240611130311.htm (accessed July 17, 2024).

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