Researchers Discover Three New Snake Species After Local Points Them to the Graveyard

by Megan Molseed
(Getty Images)

Researchers have discovered three entirely new snake species in Ecuador. This unique find comes after a local woman points the scientists to a graveyard where she would often see snakes.

Recently, a team of scientists set out on a mission to find toads that they fear may have faced extinction. The adventure, unfortunately, proved fruitless on this end after researchers were unable to uncover a single one. However, the trip soon took a turn when the team was tipped off about an entirely different discovery.

Snakes In The Graveyard

As the scientists set into town disappointed that they were unable to find the toads, they had no idea the impact they were about to make in the form of discovering a new snake species. While stopping for a meal at a local’s home the crew began to talk about their journeys. Soon, the local woman chimed in, noting that she often sees snakes in a local graveyard.

“There isn’t really like a drive-through restaurant where you can get your food,” notes Alejandro Arteaga, one of the scientists on the Ecuadorian expedition.

“So you basically need to knock on doors,” Arteaga adds. “And if there’s people there, they will gladly cook for you and tell you stories.”

This is where the researchers found their important tip. In the home of a local who was cooking up trout for the group.

“She told us that she often sees snakes in the local graveyard,” Arteaga relates. “While visiting her deceased family members.”

The Scientists Believe They Have Uncovered A “Secretive” Species Of Serpents

The local’s description of these graveyard serpents led Arteaga and his group to suspect that the snakes are from the serpent genus Atractus. This genus of snakes, experts note, tends to be “secretive.” And they like to spend most of their time underground.

“Lo and behold, we actually found two of the snakes buried in the soft soil beside the graves,” Arteaga says of the discovery. The researchers add that no disturbance of burial grounds occurred during the research.

The scientists were excited about the discovery of this snake, leading to the decision to continue searching in the region. The researchers even found a local school teacher who had collected personal samples of the snakes.

By the time the researchers finished this Ecuadorian expedition uncovering a total of three new ground snake species. Highlighting, Argteaga says, the importance of paying attention to the people who know the areas and the landscapes the best.

“It is important never to disregard the observations or the beliefs of local people,” he says. “Because they might be hiding impressive discoveries.”