Researchers in the Amazon have discovered in the rainforest of Ecuador the largest species of snake in the world, a huge green anaconda which separated from its closest relatives 10 million years ago.

Australian professor Bryan Fry of the University of Queensland led an expedition with Will Smith in 2022 to the lands of the Waorani tribe, in eastern Ecuador, to obtain samples of their anaconda populations. The access was one of the few granted since first contact with this group in 1958.

The discovery came as part of a larger study that Fry and Dutch professor Freek J. Vonk were carrying out on the impacts that oil spills are having in the Yasuní Amazon, in Ecuador. The researchers collected samples of anacondas in nine countries.

It was thought that there was only one species of green anaconda in the wild, the eunectes murinus, but the scientific journal Diversity revealed this month that the new “northern green anaconda” belongs to a different species, the eunectes akiyama.

Fry, an Australian biology professor who for almost 20 years has been researching anaconda species found in South America, told the Reuters news agency that The discovery allows them to demonstrate that the two species separated almost 10 million years ago.

Although green anaconda snakes are very similar visually, there is a 5.5% genetic difference, which surprised scientists.

Images shared by investigators showed Vonk swimming alongside a southern green anaconda approximately 20 feet long (more than 6 meters) and more than 200 kilos (441 pounds).

The research, called “Untangling the Anacondas: Revealing a New Green Species and Rethinking Yellows,” was published in the journal Diversity.


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