The new species of a venomous snake, reddish brown pit viper with a unique heat-sensing system was found in a forest in West Kameng district by a team of herpetologists led by Ashok Captain, the Forest Department official said.
Captain said before the Arunachal Pradesh discovery, India had four brown pit vipers – Malabar, Horseshoe, Hump-nosed and Himalayan.
“We don’t know anything of the Arunachal pit viper’s natural history as only one male has been found so far. More surveys and sightings of this species would gradually give us an idea of its habits, diet and breeding, whether it lays eggs or bears live young,” he said as reported by a leading news agency.
The Russian Journal of Herpetology published the discovery of the unique pit viper species in its March-April volume.
A resident of the area had first shown the snake to a research team from Pune-based Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in a forest patch near Ramda village. The research team found the snake while conducting biodiversity surveys in Eaglenest region of Arunachal Pradesh.
Comparative analyses of DNA sequences and examination of morphological features suggested that the snake belonged to a species not described before. The specimen was donated to the museum of the State Forest Research Institute in Itanagar, the official added.
These snakes are distinguished by the presence of a heat-sensing pit organ located between the eye and the nostril on both sides of the head