April 21, 2024


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The new anaconda species is said to be the largest ever found in the Amazon

The new anaconda species is said to be the largest ever found in the Amazon

The nearly 10 million-year-old species was discovered by a group of scientists with the help of the Huaorani people while filming the Disney+ documentary series Pole to Pole with Will Smith.

A giant species of anaconda, believed to be the largest in the world, has been caught deep in the Amazon jungle of Ecuador by a team of scientists from the University of Queensland.

A group of scholars led by Professor Brian Frydiscover species nearly 10 million years old with the help of indigenous people Huaorani people during filming From Pole to Pole with Will Smith,” a National Geographic series streaming on Disney+ and hosted by the Oscar winner.

“The size of these magnificent creatures was unbelievable.” Fry said in a press release. “The female anaconda we encountered reached a length of 6.3 meters (20.8 feet).”

The invitation by Huaorani leader Binti Paihua to enter Paihuiri Huaorani territory in the Ecuadorian Amazon was “one of only a handful granted since the tribe's first contact in 1958,” Fry told USA TODAY on Thursday.

“Our team received a rare invitation to explore the area and collect samples from the anaconda population,” he said.

The trip to the forest

Chief Baihua led Frye's team on a 10-day search for the anaconda, which is considered sacred to the tribe.

The team took canoes downriver in the Bameno area where they found “several anacondas lurking in the shallow water, lying in wait for prey,” Fry said.

The group then captured several specimens of a species they named the northern green anaconda (Eunectes Akayima).

“The key to understanding this discovery is the difference in the geographic range of anaconda species,” Fry told USA TODAY.

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The Amazon has two separate basins. The larger basin in the south (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, and parts of French Guiana) is home to the green anaconda, from which the northern green anaconda comes. The smaller basin in the north (Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, Venezuela, and parts of French Guiana) is home to the newly discovered northern green anaconda.

Fry said the two species differ genetically by 5.5%. “It's very important – to put it in perspective, humans differ from chimpanzees by only about 2%.”

Rumors of larger snakes

“There are anecdotal reports from the Huaorani people of other anacondas in the area that were more than 7.5 meters (24.6 feet) long and weighed about 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds),” Fry said, sharing with USA TODAY that Chief Paihua's son, Marcelo Tepeña. Baihua, he has scars from a snake that size.

“The scars were clearly from a really huge snake. They say this snake wasn't the biggest they've ever seen,” Fry said. “So it is clear that the snakes found in the Huaorani territory are indeed the largest of all anaconda species.”

Details of the snakes found have been published MDPI Diversity Scientific Paper.

Future work

Fry says his team's work in the Amazon is not over yet. Contaminants like cadmium and lead have made their way into “the delicate fabric of this ecosystem as consequences of the recurring oil spills that have plagued the Yasuni Amazon region,” Fry said.

Fry's team hopes to monitor breeding northern green anacondas to gain better insight into the overall health of the ecosystem.

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“Our future missions will focus on collecting and analyzing soil, water and biological samples, using advanced techniques to trace the pathways of these pollutants,” Fry said. “By understanding how these metals affect the endocrine systems of Amazonian wildlife, we can begin to unravel the long-term consequences of exposure and develop strategies to mitigate these effects.”

Although the future of this newly discovered species is uncertain, the journey through the forest was full of “wonder,” even when there were challenges, Fry said.

“I like nothing better than the high temperature and lack of washing while wading through swamps looking for giant snakes,” Fry said. “This discovery is the highlight of my career.”