Green Anaconda: It’s Not One, But Two Species

Very recently a new boa species was announced, but instead of it being something that had been hidden, it was a group of snakes that were well known and you’ve probably seen both species in a zoo at some point.

That is because while they look almost completely the same, there are two distinct species of green anacondas, the Northern and Southern.

Why Are They Not the Same?

Scientists first thought the Green Anaconda might be two different species more than 20 years ago. However, it took a lot of genetic testing of numerous individuals to confirm the difference. And the results are interesting.

The Northern Green Anaconda is the largest of the species and lives in the north of the range. And from its southern cousin, it has a genetic difference of about 5.5%.

In comparison, Chimpanzees and Humans have a genetic difference of just 2%.

And the two species don’t seem to overlap too much. They can be found on opposing shores along one river in the Amazon, but they don’t seem to interbreed either.

What Does This Mean?

There is going to be some controversy in captive-kept individuals. Zoos are likely to have to conduct genetic testing of their snakes, ensuring that they know which species they have. Those that breed captive individuals might need to also have tests, to ensure they know what they’re selling.

However, in many cases, there is little difference, it is just interesting that two species that look almost identical can be so different. And it will be great to see how both species have adapted to their unique environments. Why is the Northern Green Anaconda much larger? What environmental factors prevent the two from breeding?

Final Word: The Northern Green Anaconda

Learning about a new species is exciting for reptile keepers and breeders. The fact that there are two unique green anaconda species is exciting. And it will be fun to see how the difference affects captive collections across the world and what new measures need to be taken to protect both species.

If you want to know more about the research paper, you can read it here. And if you want to know more about snakes, read some of our other snake blogs.

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