The Clarion nightsnake, which herpetologists have been looking for over 80 years, has reappeared in Mexico. The snake, whose official name is Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha unaocularusis, has been rediscovered by researcher Daniel Mulcahy, who is very pleased that he found the illusive nocturnal reptile.
The snake is brownish-black in color and measures around 18-inches-long when fully grown. The Clarion nightsnake was first discovered in 1936 by William Beebe, but at the time he only collected a single specimen.
As scientists never found any more specimens, Beebe’s discovery was negated and the nightsnake was declared extinct as the single specimen wasn’t enough to consider that it really existed. But thanks to Mulcahy, Beebe is back in the record books as the Clarion nightsnake is now considered to be an official species.
It order to find the snake again, Mulcahy and his team in Mexico retraced Beebe’s steps by way of his journals all the way to Clarion, the volcanic island off the coast of Western Mexico.
Mulcahy said in a statement this week: “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.”
In total, 11 specimens of the Clarion reptile were collected and subsequent DNA analysis confirmed that the species was indeed the Clarion nightsnake. The snake survives mainly on lizards as its main source of nutrition but could be threatened by the growing population of feral cats on the island.
An expert from the island, Martinez Gomez, told reporters that the climate on the islands changes a lot from season to season so the expedition to find the Clarion nightsnake began last May to replicate Beebe’s steps identically: “Basically, following those directions, we essentially put ourselves in his place,” Gomez said.