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Researchers studying anacondas in the Amazon rainforest over two decades have unveiled the existence of two genetically distinct types of green anacondas, previously classified as a single species.

This revelation challenges the notion that green anacondas, visually identical, comprise a homogeneous group.

Publication of Findings:

The research findings, shedding light on this genetic divergence, were documented in the February edition of the scientific journal Diversity.

Australian biology professor Brian G. Fry elaborated on these discoveries in an article published on The Conversation.

Research Context:

Key Facts about Green Anaconda d0bd6ebf94

The study aimed to utilize anacondas as an indicator species to assess environmental damage caused by rampant oil spills in Ecuador’s Yasuni region.

The escalating oil extraction activities prompted researchers to investigate anaconda genetics as a measure of ecosystem health.

Genetic Analysis and Surprising Results:

Genetic analysis revealed significant genetic disparities between Ecuadorian green anacondas and those in other regions, with divergence dating back around 10 million years.

Despite this substantial genetic difference, the two anaconda types exhibit identical physical appearances, confounding researchers.

Taxonomic Classification and Naming:

The study proposes classifying the newly identified anaconda type as Eunectes akiyama, representing the northern green anaconda, distinct from Eunectes murinus, the southern green anaconda.

Geographic distribution differs, with Eunectes murinus prevalent in Peru, Bolivia, French Guiana, and Brazil, while Eunectes akiyama is found in Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.

Research Expedition and Collaboration:

Crucial data contributing to these findings were gathered during a 2022 expedition to the Bameno region of Baihuaeri Waorani Territory in the Ecuadorean Amazon.

The collaborative expedition involved Waorani leader Penti Baihua and actor Will Smith, filming a documentary series for National Geographic.

Conservation Implications:

The identification of two genetically distinct anaconda species underscores the need for tailored conservation strategies.

Each species may possess unique ecological niches and face distinct threats, necessitating individualized conservation efforts to safeguard their future.

Significance Beyond Anacondas:

The study highlights the importance of genetic analysis in uncovering species diversity, potentially revealing previously unrecognized species.

It underscores the significance of genetic research in understanding and conserving biodiversity in complex ecosystems like the Amazon rainforest.

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