Our lab expeditions over the last few weeks led to the rediscovery of a long-forgotten and rarely seen species, Atractus vertebralis. This species was described by Boulenger in 1904, but as far as we know it has not been collected ever since. Boulenger used material collected by Keays around the "Inca mine" of Santo Domingo, near Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. The discovery will allow a better characterization of the species, as well as molecular analyses to reveal the phylogenetic relationships of these poorly known, fossorial snakes.
We found these snakes under a thick layer of wet mosses, along with Proctoporus lizards, terrestrial-breeding frogs of the genus Noblella and the Pristimantis platydactylus group, and Pristimantis danae. In the picture, Isabel Diaz and Alex Ttito are searching for herps along the trail -- despite this being our third day of all-day hiking! There is always some energy left for a nice discovery.
News from the lab