The Mayan pit viper was first discovered in the states of Mizoram, Meghalaya and Guwahati in northeastern India. Experts (herpetologists) initially thought this was a species of viper known as Trimeresurus mayaae.
This snake’s name is believed to refer to the name Maya, meaning magical powers or illusions associated with local legends. Jayaditya Purkayastha, a herpetologist with wildlife research group Help Earth, said the new species is relatively common in Meghalaya, Mizoram and even Guwahati.
But the snake was formerly known as Pope’s Pit Viper (Trimeresurus popeiorum) or Gumprecht’s Green Pit Viper (Trimeresurus gumprechti). A closer look in detail at the Umroi military base near the capital Meghalaya Shillong, the site was first seen in October 2020, turned out to be of a different type.
“At first, this snake, about 750 mm long, looked very similar to the Pope’s pit viper, but the eye color was different. Further investigation revealed that this snake and the pope’s pit viper have very different hemepenis (copulatory organs),” Purkayastha said, as quoted by the Hindu site’s SINDOnews on Thursday (5/26/2022).
Purkayastha collaborated with Colonel Yashpal Singh Rathee and HT Lalremsanga of Mizoram University’s Department of Zoology and recorded the same species in Mizoram. Zeeshan Mirza from the Bengaluru-based National Center for Biological Sciences performed a thorough genetic analysis to get a better picture.
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The results support the theory that this snake is a new species of venom. There is no more accurate information about what the type of venom in this snake is.
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