Tuesday, May 30, 2023

‘Rare’ creature with ‘cryptic lifestyle’ discovered as new species in Middle East

A mysterious creature lurking in the mountains of the Middle East has gone unnoticed. The animal was rarely seen, but never identified… until now.

According to a study published in Scientific Reports, the “first well-verified record” of this “rare” reptile dates back to 1967. The unusual specimen was transferred to a museum for safekeeping. Since then, the animal has been seen sporadically, but according to researchers its identification has been wrong.

After compiling this “scattered information” from museums and obtaining several DNA samples, researchers discovered that the unknown creature was a new species: the Levante Rat Snake or Druze gets well,

According to the study, the Levant rat snake has a solid black head with a yellow body and pattern of “dark brown oval spots.” It can grow up to 6 feet tall, with males being larger than females.

According to the study, the Levantine rat snake is distinguished from other known species by several characteristics including DNA analysis as well as body size and genitalia, scale pattern and coloration. Previously, researchers had claimed that the newly described reptile was being confused with other species, even though they did not look alike.

A captive Levantine rat snake photographed in 2019.Researchers document different coloration variations in Levante rat snakes. Photos show that the snakes on Israel-controlled Mount Hermon are yellowish-white in color, while the Lebanese snakes are orange.

Although they are large and highly colored, Levante rat snakes can be “well camouflaged” in their natural habitat, according to the study.

A levantine rat snake seen in lebanon in 2018.A Levantine rat snake seen in Lebanon in 2018.
According to the researchers, the new species has a small range in the mountains of Israel, Lebanon and Syria, a “very unstable region politically”.

The creature’s “secretive lifestyle”, “rarity” and “isolation” – as well as the difficulty for researchers to access its habitat – have allowed it to remain unknown for so long.

According to the researchers the Levante Rat Snake or Druze gets well It is named after the Druze people who live in the same areas as the new species.

The researchers believe that the new species are threatened and endangered by various forms of human behaviour, such as military activity, tourism and climate change.

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