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Fiji: New Species of Snake Discovered

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 27th, 2008

According to The Fiji Times for Thursday, August 28, 2008, an entirely new snake species has been discovered at Vuna on Taveuni, Fiji.

Or perhaps it is a “rediscovery”? A blind snake reportedly from Vuna, Taveuni was exhibited at a formal meeting of the Members of the Linnaen Society of New South Wales in 1897. The specimen has never been found and the record regarded as suspect. However Allan Gortan, the owner of the Paradise Taveuni Resort has recently procured a new specimen in the resort garden, reportedly where they are quite regularly found.

NatureFiji-MareqetiViti, a conservation organization, says this new species is not only new to Fiji but has not been found anywhere else in the world.

The snake is a small, blind, burrowing snake. It is shiny black in color (although in the photograph above it appears red-brownish), reaches about 25 cm in length, and is harmless.

A preliminary reaction from Dr. George Zug of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., the world authority on Fiji’s reptiles, is that this is unlike any other described species of snake in the world.

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Dr. George Zug is one of the founding members of the now-defunct International Society of Cryptozoology (ISC). He was actually the host of the charter meeting held at the Smithsonian on January 8-9, 1982, and named the first director of the board of directors of the ISC. He was involved in the initial investigations of cases such as the Mansi photograph of the Champ cryptid and the Frew videotape of the alleged Chessie Sea Serpent. It is welcome news to hear that Dr. Zug is still alive and well, and engaged in continued research. He is a significant figure in the history of cryptozoology.

Dr. George Zug clowns around with a replica of an elusive Myanmar snake on location there in 2003.

Dr. Zug, shown above behind some friends and their snake, is a coauthor of two reference books frequently used in the field, Snakes: Smithsonian Answer Book (Washington: Smithsonian Books, 2004), and Herpetology. An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles (San Diego: Academic Press, 2001). – Loren

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A survey undertaken by NatureFiji-MareqetiViti in conjunction with the Taveuni Paradise Resort has revealed that most farmers in south Taveuni are quite familiar with the Ngata ni qele, though they only see it rarely when digging their gardens or in the forests for wild yams.

“This snake is a classic example of how little we know about the very special wildlife which we have in our own backyard, and provides all the more encouragement for NatureFiji-MareqetiViti in its ambition to get Fiji’s youth informed, interested and active in the conservation of the nation’s wildlife” Nunia Thomas, Conservation Coordinator, NatureFiji-MareqetiViti.

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.


6 Responses to “Fiji: New Species of Snake Discovered”

  1. wdsasquatch responds:

    Cool.
    Yes, we will never catalogue all species on Earth.

  2. Andrew Minnesota responds:

    Interesting find it just goes to show we should never dismiss unrecognized species that locals around the world say are out there.

  3. AlbertaSasquatch responds:

    Before I started frequenting cryptomundo a while back I would never have guessed that so many animals are being discovered all the time. Not always small animals and insects either. Some of these animals are quite large. It just blows my mind that we know so much yet it still is just a fraction of what is really out there. These kind of discoveries give me great hope that one day some of the bigger cryptids will be catalogued and proven to science and the rest of the world.

  4. mystery_man responds:

    I hadn’t heard about this one. I’m curious to the statement that the snake is not found anywhere else in the world, since many animals are unique to one place. Does this emphasis on the fact have to do with something more than it’s just being endemic to Fiji? I’d also be interested to know why this species is so unlike any other snake, what features it possesses that apparently makes it such a wonderfully unique find.

  5. Ayala responds:

    I am glad to hear that someone like Dr. Zug is still around as well. I think it is so important for someone in the field to be talking to these people and gleaning information from them about the early cryptozoological organizations. We need a cryptozoology historian. :)

  6. Tomu responds:

    This sounds very much like a little-known snake from the rainforest of the main island, Viti Levu. Its local name is Bolo, and it is small and shiny black. They have eyes, but I don’t recall “mine” ever really showing signs of seeing anything; so it might have been blind. People would occasionally find them while digging. They were quite docile. Only after handling “my” specimen regularly (and without incident) did I learn that it had never been described by science, but was believed to be an elaphid — a cobra relative! Regrettably, this information came after the specimen died from refusing to eat, and only then did I discover that procuring another specimen (to present to the proper authorities for study and formal description) was not possible during my tenure in Fiji.

    Anyway, there isn’t enough information in this article to guess whether this snake is more widespread than believed, or whether there are a tribe of related species, each endemic to a different island in the group. But the subject is intriguing. I wonder whether Dr. Zug can shed any light on this.



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