3 New Snakes Found, One Named for Underworld Monster
The newfound species add to Earth's most diverse snake genus—and one of them is already critically endangered.
The quest to build a family tree for Earth’s most diverse snake genus has uncovered three new species—one of which is named after Cerberus, the monster guarding the Greek underworld’s gates.
At first glance, Atractus cerberus doesn’t look especially imposing. The brown and yellow snake doesn’t get much longer than 12 inches, and it lives an unassuming life along the borders of forests within Ecuador’s Pacoche Wildlife Refuge, hiding under rocks and logs.
But just a few miles down the road from the snake’s habitat, more than 1,200 acres of forest have been stripped bare—the footprint for the Refinery of the Pacific, a massive oil refinery that’s been under construction since 2008. The denuded landscape reminded the researchers who discovered