Science

new species, Barbados, smallest snake
Blair Hedges/New Scientist
Leptotyphlops carlae: the world's
smallest snake

Despite Extinction and Endangerment, New Species Show Earth Carries On

August 05, 2008 06:04 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
A tiny new species of snake was discovered in Barbados, illustrating the planet’s amazing ability to reveal new species as others disappear.

30-Second Summary

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U.S. scientist S. Blair Hedges stumbled upon the slithery creature beneath a rock in the easternmost Caribbean island. Hedges named the snake “Leptotyphlops carlae” after his herpetologist wife, Carla Ann Hass. He thinks his discovery is the smallest that snakes get.

However, others have disputed Hedges’s claim. Biologist Nathan Kley said most thread snakes are so secretive that they’re able to “escape detection,” and smaller species could still be out there somewhere.

Ironically, Hedges’s snake could be in danger of becoming extinct because it has a limited habitat, just “a few square kilometers of forest on Barbados, where almost all of the original forests have been cleared,” reported National Geographic News.

The discovery is indicative of a fascinating concept: although many species, such as the Narwhal, are in danger of extinction, many new species continue to be discovered. In August 2008 alone, a new species of fungus and dolphin have already been found.

Although scientists say that biodiversity is drastically declining, the causes of the plummet have all been attributed to humans. The responsibility and opportunity to protect endangered species is ours.

Headline Links: Caribbean discovery

Background: Secretive thread snakes

Related Topics: In with the new

Opinion & Analysis: Animal Kingdom Census

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