Snake species missing for nearly 80 years rediscovered

This 18-inch Clarion Nightsnake (Hypsiglena unaocularus), found on black lava rock habitat on the island of Clarion, is darker in color than its mainland relatives and has a distinctive pattern of spots on its head and neck. The Clarion Nightsnake, which was initially discovered in the first half of the 19th century and then struck from the scientific record, was rediscovered and declared a new species by National Museum of Natural History researcher Daniel Mulcahy and a team of Mexican scientists led by ecologist Juan Martínez-Gómez in May 2014. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Mulcahy)


This 18-inch Clarion Nightsnake (Hypsiglena unaocularus), found on black lava rock habitat on the island of Clarion, is darker in color than its mainland relatives and has a distinctive pattern of spots on its head and neck. The Clarion Nightsnake, which was initially discovered in the first half of the 19th century and then struck from the scientific record, was rediscovered and declared a new species by National Museum of Natural History researcher Daniel Mulcahy and a team of Mexican scientists led by ecologist Juan Martínez-Gómez in May 2014. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Mulcahy)

A science mystery, solved! After going missing for 78 years, the Clarion nightsnake (Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha unaocularus), a nocturnal snake first discovered in the 19th century, then struck from the scientific record, has been rediscovered.

National Museum of Natural History researcher Daniel Mulcahy and his team found the species on the Mexican island of Clarion, which is its exclusive habitat. The reptilian species "could have remained unknown to science if not for the team’s efforts to solve the case surrounding its disappearance." Details here, and in the May 16 issue of PLOS ONE.

This view of Sulphur Bay at sunrise shows the area where Mulcahy retraced the steps of naturalist William Beebe nearly eighty years after his expedition to Clarion, and found evidence that the nocturnal Clarion Nightsnake continues to live on the island today. The Clarion Nightsnake, which was initially discovered in the first half of the 19th century and then struck from the scientific record, was rediscovered and declared a new species by National Museum of Natural History researcher Daniel Mulcahy and a team of Mexican scientists led by ecologist Juan Martínez-Gómez in May 2014. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Mulcahy)


This view of Sulphur Bay at sunrise shows the area where Mulcahy retraced the steps of naturalist William Beebe nearly eighty years after his expedition to Clarion, and found evidence that the nocturnal Clarion Nightsnake continues to live on the island today. The Clarion Nightsnake, which was initially discovered in the first half of the 19th century and then struck from the scientific record, was rediscovered and declared a new species by National Museum of Natural History researcher Daniel Mulcahy and a team of Mexican scientists led by ecologist Juan Martínez-Gómez in May 2014. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Mulcahy)

Mulcahy on his way to Clarion, a remote island off of the coast of Mexico and the one place in the world where the Clarion Nightsnake can be found. The Clarion Nightsnake, which was initially discovered in the first half of the 19th century and then struck from the scientific record, was rediscovered and declared a new species by National Museum of Natural History researcher Daniel Mulcahy and a team of Mexican scientists led by ecologist Juan Martínez-Gómez in May 2014. (Photo courtesy of Juan Martínez-Gómez )


Mulcahy on his way to Clarion, a remote island off of the coast of Mexico and the one place in the world where the Clarion Nightsnake can be found. The Clarion Nightsnake, which was initially discovered in the first half of the 19th century and then struck from the scientific record, was rediscovered and declared a new species by National Museum of Natural History researcher Daniel Mulcahy and a team of Mexican scientists led by ecologist Juan Martínez-Gómez in May 2014. (Photo courtesy of Juan Martínez-Gómez )

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