Meghalaya: New species of venomous snake discovered in Ri-Bhoi district

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A team of herpetologists have discovered a new species of venomous snake Trimeresurus mayaae or Maya’s Pit viper from Umroi Military station in Ri-Bhoi district of Meghalaya.

Named in honour of Col Yashpal Singh Rathee’s late mother – Maya, the snake looked very similar to Pope’s pit viper but the colour of the eyes was different; informed a herpetologist from Help Earth in Guwahati – Jayaditya Purkayastha.

Purkayastha was part of the team that collaborated with Colonel Yashpal Singh Rathee of Umroi Military Station in Meghalaya to discover the new species.

Initially, the new species was assumed to be a common species found in Meghalaya, Mizoram, and even Guwahati.

“Further research disclosed that the species and Pope’s pit viper have highly distinct hemepenis (the copulatory organ).

Later, the team partnered with Prof HT Lalremsanga of Mizoram University’s Department of Zoology, who also recorded the same species for Mizoram,” Purkayastha explained.

“NCBS’ Zeeshan Mirza performed an in-depth genetic investigation to gain a better understanding, and the results backed the notion that the snake is a new species,” he further added.

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