New snake species found in Central China

Updated: Feb 2, 2024 Xinhua Print
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CHANGSHA -- Chinese scientists have identified a new snake species featuring a bright yellow neck collar in Central China's Hunan province.

The newly discovered Achalinus nanshanensis belongs to the genus Achalinus, commonly known as odd-scaled snakes. It is only found in the two counties of Chengbu and Tongdao in the southwest of Hunan.

The discovery has increased the number of identified Achalinus species in the world to 28, according to the article published recently in the scientific journal ZooKeys.

Achalinus is a group of cave-dwelling, earthworm-eating snakes featuring scales that shine colorfully under the light, said Mo Xiaoyang, one author of the article and a professor with Hunan Normal University.

Achalinus nanshanensis stands out with its bright yellow neck collar, a feature that caught the attention of researchers during their fieldwork between 2022 and 2023, leading to the identification of the new species, according to Mo.

This non-venomous snake mostly inhabits subtropical forests and is often spotted near streams after rain, researchers say.

Mainly distributed in China, Vietnam and Japan, the genus Achalinus is the most diverse genus of the family Xenodermidae.

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