New colourful, horned snake discovered in Tanzania

Jan 11, 2012, 17:52 IST | Agencies

For the first time, researchers have discovered a new colourful snake which sports horns just above its eyes. The 2.1-feet-long horned snake having a body coloured in striking black and yellow was found in a remote part of Tanzania, East Africa.

It's named Matilda's horned viper, or Atheris matildae, after the daughter of Tim Davenport, the Wildlife Conservation Society's Director of Tanzania, DiscoveryNews reported.

It is named Matilda's horned viper.PIC/AFP

The researchers, who detailed their finding in journal Zootaxa, said they have no idea why the snake has horns.

However, they believe the horns could be helping them protect their eyes, or they might be used in visual displays to attract potential mates.

Perhaps they serve a variety of other functions too, the researchers said.

Davenport and his team aren't too concerned with that issue now, though.

They are instead concerned that this new species could be of interest to illegal pet collectors.

That's why they have kept the snake's habitat a secret.

They have, however, revealed that the area is only a few square miles big and is already severely degraded from logging and charcoal manufacture.

Davenport and his colleagues anticipate that the species will be classified as critically endangered and have already established a small captive breeding colony for it.

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