Rare boa species rediscovered in The Bahamas

Crooked-Acklins boa, Chilabothrus schwartzi. Image courtesy of UNC Asheville via Citizen Times
Biodiversity

A rare species of boa snake—so rare that there were no previous reports of live specimens—has been “rediscovered” in The Bahamas:

UNC Asheville assistant professor of biology Graham Reynolds has followed up his 2016 published discovery of the silver boa, Chilabothrus argentum, with the rediscovery of a species of boid snakes known as the Crooked-Acklins boa, Chilabothrus schwartzi.

These boas from the Crooked-Acklins Bank in the Bahamas were never documented as alive in the wild by researchers, having been previously known only from four dead specimens collected in the early 1970s.

No photographs of live wild examples had ever been published, and no juveniles had been documented. Reynolds co-authored a paper published in the journal Breviora this month that is the first report of live wild specimens.

Reynolds’ team of researchers found three juvenile specimens and an adult female Crooked-Acklins Boa during an expedition in July 2017.

“We can now draw inferences on the biology of the species, including the habitats they occupy and the things that they eat,” Reynolds said. “For example, we discovered that the juveniles are arboreal, nocturnal and feed on sleeping lizards. The juveniles also undergo a dramatic color change as they age, transitioning from orange to silver-gray.”

Reynolds and his team of researchers from Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology discovered the silver boa in 2015 — the first new species of boa found in situ in the Caribbean since the 1940s.

That new boa species is considered critically endangered and is one of the most endangered boa species globally. The Crooked-Acklins boa is the 13th species of West Indian boa and is of unknown conservation status.

“Despite over a century of scientific work in the Bahamas, our recent discoveries have demonstrated that much remains to be learned about species diversity in the region,” Reynolds said. “The rediscovery of the Crooked-Acklins Boa further signifies the uniqueness and importance of Bahamian wildlife, but also increases the urgency of protecting these species.”

For more, see the original article from the Asheville Citizen Times.  You can also read the abstract of the journal article about the rediscovery (the full article is behind a subscription wall). Also of interest: this blog post about Bahamian boas, from the Abaco Scientist.

 

[Image: UNC Asheville via the Citizen Times]

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