• Researchers discovered and named a new snake species
  • It is said to be endemic to Paraguay
  • The species has an "extremely restricted" global range

Researchers have found a stunning new snake species with beautiful coloration. Although it is only newly described, it may already be in danger of extinction.

The new species was only discovered "by chance" in 2014 while one of the researchers, Jean-Paul Brouard, was digging a hole at Rancho Laguna Blanca in Paraguay, Pensoft Publishers noted in a blog. The non-venomous snake is said to be endemic to the Cerrado forests of the department of San Pedro in east Paraguay, particularly in two sandy spots that are just about 90 kilometers apart — one is Laguna Blanca and the other is Colonia Volendam.

Although the group of snakes it belongs to (Phalotris) is known for its beautiful red, black and yellow patterns, the new species can still be easily distinguished from its relatives because of its red head that's combined with a yellow collar, noted Pensoft.

One can see just how striking the new species is in these photos the researchers provided in their paper published in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution. In it, they described the species and gave it the name Phalotris shawnella.

"The species name is a combination of the first names of two remarkable young people who were born around the same time as Fundación Para La Tierra, and who inspired its founders to work towards the study and conservation of the Paraguayan fauna, so that one day they might inherit a better world: Shawn Ariel Smith Fernández and Ella Bethany Atkinson," the researchers wrote.

Fundación Para La Tierra is a Paraguayan organization that aims to protect habitats in the country via "scientific research, community engagement, and environmental education."

As for the P. shawnella, just like many other newly discovered species, it may unfortunately already be in danger of extinction. Apart from its "extremely restricted" global range, the area where it exists is also "undergoing constant altercation," the researchers noted.

As such, a designation of "Endangered" would fit the species, given the currently available data. According to the researchers, the new endemic snake is "in need of urgent conservation action." This shows how important it is to protect the region, they added.

"Laguna Blanca was designated as a Nature Reserve for a period of 5 years, but currently has no protection at all," the researchers noted, as per Pensoft. "The preservation of this site should be considered a national priority for conservation."

Image: Representational image of snake skin. Pixabay