Philip­pine coral snake con­sid­ered as new species

Manila Bulletin - - News - By ELLALYN DE VERA-RUIZ

Aco­ral snake that can only be found in the Philip­pines is among the 229 new plant and an­i­mal species de­scribed by the Cal­i­for­nia Acad­emy of Sci­ences (CAS) this year.

The re­search in­sti­tute and nat­u­ral his­tory mu­seum based in San Fran­cisco, Cal­i­for­nia, said the de­scrip­tion of the new species of plants and an­i­mals help in “en­rich­ing our un­der­stand­ing of Earth’s com­plex web of life and strength­en­ing our abil­ity to make in­formed con­ser­va­tion de­ci­sions.”

In a state­ment, CAS said re­searchers were sur­prised to dis­cover a mys­te­ri­ous three-foot coral snake in Di­na­gat Is­land 10 years ago.

The black-and-white banded, long-glanded coral snake is for­mally de­scribed this year as Cal­lio­phis sal­i­tan.

It has a bright-orange tail un­like its blue­tailed rel­a­tives that in­habit the re­gion.

The new species, which be­longs to a group of ven­omous Asian coral snakes, is only found in the Philip­pines.

“The evo­lu­tion­ary ori­gins of this new orange-tailed species re­main a mys­tery,” said Dr. Alan Le­vi­ton, emer­i­tus cu­ra­tor and Acad­emy Fel­low.

Le­vi­ton, along with a team that in­cluded acad­emy re­search as­so­ciate Dr. Rafe Brown of Univer­sity of Kansas, said the Cal­lio­phis sal­i­tan “might be more wide­spread than we think, there might be close rel­a­tives we haven’t dis­cov­ered yet, or it could be the sole sur­viv­ing mem­ber of a lost lin­eage.”

“Or, maybe orange is just the new blue,” he added.

This year, CAS de­scribed new species that in­clude 120 wasps, 34 sea slugs, 28 ants, 19 fish, seven flow­er­ing plants, seven spi­ders, four eels, three sharks, two wa­ter bears, one frog, one snake, one sea­horse, one moss, and one liv­er­wort plant.

More than a dozen acad­emy sci­en­tists—along with sev­eral dozen in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tors—de­scribed the new species dis­cov­er­ies.

Prov­ing that our vast and dy­namic planet still con­tains un­ex­plored places with never-be­fore-recorded plants and an­i­mals, the sci­en­tists made their finds over five con­ti­nents and three oceans—ven­tur­ing into river-carved canyons, div­ing to ex­treme ocean depths, and scour­ing misty forests.

The re­sults help ad­vance the CAS’mis­sion to ex­plore, ex­plain, and sus­tain life on Earth.

“Bio­di­ver­sity sci­en­tists es­ti­mate that less than 10 per­cent of species on Earth have been dis­cov­ered,” Dr. Shan­non Ben­nett, Acad­emy Chief of Sci­ence, said.

LEAD­ER­SHIP FO­RUM – Vice Pres­i­dent Leni Ro­bredo ar­rives for a fo­rum on mis­sion and value-driven lead­er­ship at the Con­cor­dia Col­lege in Manila on Fri­day. In her speech, Ro­bredo stressed the im­por­tance of true ser­vant-lead­er­ship, em­pa­thy and the youth’s role in mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in so­ci­ety. (OVP photo)

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