Seen coiled around a branch in an undated picture, a new species of snake called the ruby-eyed green pit viper (Cryptelytrops rubeus) has been discovered in Southeast Asia, according to a recent study. The snake lives in forests near Ho Chi Minh City and across the low hills of southern Vietnam and eastern Cambodia‘s Langbian Plateau.
Scientists collected green pit vipers from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia between 1999 and 2003 and examined them in the lab, using physical characteristics and genetics to identify new species.
“We know this species from only a few specimens, and very few people in the world have seen this snake,” said study co-author Anita Malhotra, a molecular ecologist at Bangor University in the U.K. “We know very little about what it does, to be honest.”
Malhotra and colleagues also discovered a very similar species with striking yellow eyes (not pictured) dubbed the Cardamom Mountains green pit viper (Cryptelytrops cardamomensis), which inhabits southeastern Thailand and southwestern Cambodia. Both new species were described in the January 23 issue of the journal Zootaxa.