While driving through Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains National Park in 2013, graduate student Evan Buechley of the University of Utah, and his colleagues, spotted a black-colored snake with pale-yellowish markings. The driver stopped the vehicle, and the team photographed the one-meter long snake. To date, these are the only known photographs of what scientists say could be a new species of venomous Bitis viper.
Based on Buechley’s photographs, a team of scientists decided to take a closer look at the museum specimen of a similar-looking snake at London’s Natural History Museum. The snake had been collected in the 1960s, and was thought to be a differently patterned individual of the venomous Ethiopian viper Bitis parviocula.
Re-examination of the specimen revealed that it was not the same as Bitis parviocula: there was differences in its color patterns, the structure of its skull and its head proportions and the number of scales.