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Chameleon Snake Discovered

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 28th, 2006

Kapuas mud snake

A red-brown snake that turns white? A new species among over 350 species discovered on Borneo?

Being rather busy here with a wide variety of cryptozoological matters, I’ll let my Boing Boing buddy David Pescovitz’s good summary about the new finding of this chameleon snake speak for itself:

Scientists have discovered a new species of venomous water snake in Borneo that can change its colors. The half-meter-long snake is a member of the genus Enhydris and might only live in the Kapuas River drainage system of Borneo. It’s not yet known whether the chameleon-like behavior is a defense mechanism or something else. German zoologist Mark Auliya , a consultant for the World Wildlife Fund, and his colleagues named the creature the Kapuas mud snake.

For more descriptions of the color-changing and more links, visit Boing Boing by clicking on Pescovitz’s permalink.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


12 Responses to “Chameleon Snake Discovered”

  1. planettom responds:

    Wow, very interesting. Are there any other snakes in the world that can change their color I wonder? That’s the first I’ve heard of a snake changing color. Cool.

  2. jim_brikiatis responds:

    One more but so small step. Who knows…

  3. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    Wow… all kinds of things just keep on coming out of southeast Asia… the rock rat and mud snake may not be Mawas, but they are pretty darn interesting, and point to just how many critters are still out there waiting to be found.

  4. MBFH responds:

    Saw this on BBC web news today…Jeremy is right. Brings up all sorts of possibilities doesn’t it: if a small reptile has evolved these characteristics have some large (undiscovered) ones…?(my first comment on this great site – thought it might as well be out of the left field!)

  5. Dan Gannon responds:

    If this species was previously described by eyewitnesses, wouldn’t that make it a cryptid? I wonder if anyone has described such snakes before before. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been.

  6. twblack responds:

    This is just one more case of we do not even have a clue as to how many more unknowns are out their. What wonderful news!

  7. shumway10973 responds:

    I love to hear about new critters. Keeps my hopes up that someone will find a really big critter closer to home.

  8. youcantryreachingme responds:

    To clarify Loren’s lead-in – that’s 350 (or 361 to be precise) new plant and animal species in Borneo – in the last 10 years.

    The BBC news reports the genus as Enhydris and species as gyii.

    German website “Geo” shows a beautiful photo of a snake described as “Enhydris sp.” in its article titled “Unknown species: they do exist!“.

    The copyright holder is zoologist Mark Auliya and the article date is May 2005 – before the formal description in December 2005 and well after its collection in 1996.

    (Didn’t we have an earlier discussion about the times between discovery and public announcement?)

    In all liklihood, that’s the same species, and the enlarged photo is gorgeous!

    Interestingly, the snake turned white when placed into a dark bucket. A second specimen did likewise with the same bucket and researchers don’t know why the colour change is the complete opposite expected for camouflage. Stress might be the prime reason.

    Dan (5) mentioned it – what if we’d had some eyewitness report of a “fierce jungle snake, that changes colour from reddish-black to white in an instant with potent venom and the locals have mythical legends about villagers being killed in excruciating agony by these serpents of the deep“?

    It would be written off as a joke, surely? Colour-changing snakes? Who’s ever heard of them? (Well, ok, there are others…)

  9. Dan Gannon responds:

    re: viral infection of the germ line cells (and possible viral transmission of genetic material between hosts.)

    For example, you could have lizard (chameleon) DNA transmitted to a snake via a viral pathway. This could happen between any species infected by the same virii (between humans and monkeys or other primates, for example.) This mechanism may explain some anomalies, including perhaps some cryptids, and possibly some instances of “parallel evolution.”

  10. youcantryreachingme responds:

    Doh. Hope I don’t catch bird-flu. Can’t imagine growing feathers :(

  11. MattBille responds:

    I know the article calls color-changing snakes “rare” , but ARE there any other species, or is this the first known?

  12. Mnynames responds:

    Not to my knowledge, which to my mind is what makes this seemingly innoccuous find so important…



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