Clarion Nightsnake Reemerges Nearly a Century After First Sighting

Image: Clarion Nightsnake Reemerges Nearly a Century After First Sighting

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 10:24 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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The Clarion nightsnake has eluded scientists for nearly a century, but one lucky researcher recently rediscovered the elusive creature.

"The rediscovery of the Clarion nightsnake is an incredible story of how scientists rely on historical data and museum collections to solve modern-day mysteries about biodiversity in the world we live in," said National Museum of Natural History researcher Daniel Mulcahy, according to Discovery News.

"Proper identification is the first step toward conserving this snake, and we plan to continue monitoring this species to learn more about the role it plays in the delicate Clarion Island ecosystem," he explained.

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A man named William Beebe first discovered the snake species, "Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha unaocularus," in 1936. Beebe tagged the roughly 18-inch-long snake, and it was entered into the record at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Since then, scientists have never again seen the creature — which blends in flawlessly with the volcanic rock it lives among — up until Mulcahy's recent expedition.

Mulcahy, in an attempt to settle the details of the existence of the snake once and for all, and colleagues at the Instituto de EcologĂ­a in Mexico set off for Clarion Island, located off the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

In total, they found 11 of the snakes, and were able to confirm through DNA testing that its genetic code was unique and distinct from similar mainland snakes.

A full scientific report was published last week in the journal Plos One.

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