The Rumors About the Snake Were True

A new species of giant anaconda is identified
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2024 3:05 PM CST
Updated Feb 25, 2024 10:40 AM CST
As Far as Discoveries Go, It's Quite Literally Huge
A northern green anaconda.   (Jesus Rivas)

Bryan Fry calls the discovery "the highlight of my career"—and it's quite literally a big one. The University of Queensland professor and his team managed to document a new species of giant anaconda in the Amazon, per a press release. As Fry explains, his team got "a rare invitation from the Waorani people" to spend 10 days in the Bameno region of Baihuaeri Waorani Territory in the Ecuadorian Amazon looking for the snake, which is "rumored to be the largest in existence." The expedition had them paddling canoes down rivers, where they did manage to find what's been named the northern green anaconda, or Eunectes akayima.

And they were indeed huge: While the Waorani people suggested they could measure up to 25 feet in length, Fry's team was able to measure one female snake at nearly 21 feet. Fry said the northern green anaconda species split from the southern green anaconda almost 10 million years ago, and their genetic differences now stand at 5.5%, which is also huge. "To put it in perspective, humans differ from chimpanzees by only about 2%," he said. That said, National Geographic notes the species look so alike that "even experts can't tell them apart"; blood and tissue samples were collected to confirm it was a distinct species.

Though a research paper on the find was published in the journal Diversity, those interested in learning more about the snake can take a more light-hearted route: The discovery was filmed as part of National Geographic's Disney+ series Pole to Pole with Will Smith. (More discoveries stories.)

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