UTA Researchers Discover New Species of Snake -- Inside Belly of Another Snake - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

UTA Researchers Discover New Species of Snake -- Inside Belly of Another Snake

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    UTA Researchers Discover Snake Species Inside Another Snake

    Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington are celebrating after finding a new species of snake, but it's how they made their exciting discovery that's really turning heads. (Published Monday, Jan. 28, 2019)

    Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington are celebrating after finding a new species of snake, but it's how they made their exciting discovery that's really turning heads.

    Dr. Jonathan Campbell and his team traveled to a remote part of Mexico, accessible only by horseback, to catalogue and look at different kinds of reptiles that lived in the area.

    A family they befriended had recently killed a coral snake that wandered onto their property. Eager to preserve to it, he went to collect it.

    "At that point, I noticed it had something in it's belly," said Campbell, a Professor of Biology at UTA. "So I dissected another snake out. And much to my surprise, it was something I was totally unfamiliar with. I thought I knew most of the snakes in that area. But with a little bit of research, we were certain it was a new species."

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    The scientific community has agreed with them, publishing their discovery in a recent scientific journal.

    They gave the small, eight-inch long snake the scientific name cenaspis aenigma, which translates to "mystery dinner snake." Campbell said they're still working on a common name.

    "It's always very exciting to think that you're holding in your hand something that no one else has ever seen," said Campbell. "I was sent a Wikipedia account of it. The description has been out for less than a month and it already has its own account -- so it's not doing too badly I guess."

    Campbell and his team have visited that same part of Mexico multiple times since making the discovery. But to this day, they have yet to find a live one.

    He said part of the difficulty in finding it -- he believes the snake spends most of its life underground.

    "Maybe it's not surprising that we haven't found another one," said Campbell. "But I think they're still there. And I'm looking forward to having someone write a paper down the line telling me what the live ones look like and where they were found."

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