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Will Smith helped discover giant anaconda species in the Amazon

Will Smith helped discover giant anaconda species in the Amazon

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The Amazon rainforest is famous for being home to the world's largest snake by body size (weight): the green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) which can reach 7 meters in length and weigh more than 130 kg. Upon conducting a detailed genetic analysis, the researchers discovered that the same scientific name is actually used for two different species. The most curious thing is that all this happened with the participation of actor Will Smith.

To understand, this search for the anaconda, known internationally as the anaconda, began with an expedition to the Ecuadorian Amazon, with the aim of recording the documentary Pole to pole (Not expected to be shown in Brazil), produced by National Geographic. Will Smith himself was present at the filming.

Researchers, such as Brian Fry, a professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, also participated in the trip. In turn, Fry is one of the authors of the new study published in the journal MDPI diversityWhich reveals the presence of two different types of anacondas in the Amazon region.

New species of anaconda

Green anacondas in the Ecuadorian Amazon are, on average, larger than those found in the Brazilian part of the tropical forest. The largest ones can also be found in Colombia and Venezuela. Other than that, the two groups of snakes tend to look very similar.

However, genome analysis found that the groups differed genetically by 5.5%. “[A porcentagem] “This is very important,” says scientist Fry, in a statement. “To put this in perspective, humans differ from chimpanzees by only about 2%.”

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Therefore, green sugars should now be divided into two different types:

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  • Northern green anaconda (Eunectes acaiima): This snake tends to be larger and is mainly found in Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela;
  • southern green anaconda (Eunectes murinus): This species retains its ancient name and is more common in Brazil and Peru.

Below, see a map of the species' distribution in South America:

A new species of anaconda has been discovered in the Amazon region, after genetic analysis (Image: Rivas et al., 2024/MDPI Diversity)

Both species are still known for their semi-aquatic habits. In other words, they tend to be found in places with shallow water covered with vegetation and are excellent swimmers. In contrast, it is slower on dry land. They are one of the strongest animals in the world.

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However, Amazonian anaconda species occupy different river basins. According to the researchers, the hypothesis is that this geographic division began 10 million years ago and culminated in the formation of two distinct species.

curiousity: The green anaconda is the heaviest snake in the world, according to the Butantan Institute. In length, they are only smaller than the reticulated python (Reticulum Malayopython), found in Southeast Asia.

Changes among anacondas

On the other hand, the three smaller anaconda species should be grouped into a single species, according to genomic data from the new research. “Our data challenge the current understanding of yellow anaconda species by suggesting uniformity Eunectes deschauenseei that it Inectis penensis In one type with Eunectes notaeus“, say scientists.

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In addition to the Australian researchers, the study included the participation of members from the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Mato Grosso (IFMT) and the State University of Santa Cruz (UESC).

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source: Butantan Institute, University of Queensland that it MDPI diversity