A National Taiwan Normal University team announced April 10 the discovery of Pareas
atayal, the first endemic snake species identified in Taiwan since 1931.
The mollusk-eating reptile is found in Xueshan—the second highest mountain in Taiwan at 3,886 meters above sea level—and named after the indigenous Atayal tribe inhabiting the region. The findings were published online in Sweden-based animal systematics journal Zoological Scripta.
Lin Si-min, team leader and a professor with NTNU Department of Life Science, said previously only the Pareas formosanus was recognized as a valid pareatid species endemic to Taiwan. “The new species, however, is characterized by its yellow iris, elongated lower jaw and weakly keeled dorsal scales.
“While the former favors slugs for food, the latter has a particular fondness for snails, resulting in the evolution of an asymmetric tooth arrangement optimized for extracting meat from right-handed shells.” [FULL STORY]