Researchers have discovered a new snake species in Madagascar and named it ghost snake for its pale grey coloration and elusiveness. The snake species is named Madagascarophis lolo, pronounced ‘luu luu,’ which means ghost in Malagasy.
The researchers from the LSU Museum of Natural Science, the American Museum of Natural History and the Université de Mahajunga have discovered the ghost snake in Ankarana National Park in northern Madagascar.
The ghost snake is part of a common group of snakes called Madagascarophis, or cat-eyed snakes, named for their vertical pupils, which is often found among snakes that are active in the evening or night. Many of the cat-eyed snakes are found in developed areas or degraded forests. However, the researchers found the ghost snake on the national park’s iconic pale grey limestone Tsingy rocks.
The researchers conducted genetic analyses and were surprised to find that the ghost snake’s next closest relative is a snake called Madagascarophis fuchsi, which was discovered at a site approximately 100 kilometers north of Ankarana several years ago. Both were found in rocky, isolated areas.