A recent CNN article highlighted a fascinating new find by scientists: a brand-spanking-new species of snake. Levitonius mirus, the Waray dwarf burrowing snake, is found only on two islands in the Philippines. This elusive, diminutive creature—only about as long as a pencil—has among the fewest vertebrae of any snake species in the world. Its iridescent scales make it one of the more striking as well.
The snake’s “discovery”—it has never been found in the wild, only identified by preserved specimens--happened almost by accident. The lead scientist had been studying another genus, which this snake had been misidentified as. DNA analysis, however, proved the tiny snake had been miscategorized, and the scientist was able to describe a new genus and species altogether. Its name, the article notes, derives jointly from another researcher of snakes in the Philippines, Alan Leviton, and the Latin word for “extraordinary”, which aptly fits such an unexpected find.
The snake’s discovery further underscores the need for biodiversity collections so that researchers can tease out the subtle differences as well as similarities between all manner of flora and fauna.
Welcome, Levitonius mirus! We’re glad to add you to our knowledge of the wonders of our planet.