Snake Expert Extending Peace Hand To Barbadians

Said snake is named Barbados Threadsnake

 

Photo credit – nationnews

My research on the Barbados Threadsnake was discussed in an article by Bryan Walker on August 8. I understand the reaction of Barbadians to the news reports, when the snake was known already on the island. But this is true of almost any new species of reptile – they are known by local residents.

The news reports were not clear, and caused much of this confusion. The thing that was discovered was not the presence of the snake on Barbados, but that it is an endemic species known nowhere else – this was new. The research article can be obtained freely at: www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2008/f/zt01841p030.pdf

Before, that snake was considered the same species as the one on Martinique and St Lucia, and therefore not so special. The discovery was made by sequencing its DNA and by studying it carefully in a laboratory.

News reports failed to mention that I named the snake the “Barbados Threadsnake” in my scientific article. The scientific name – which people rarely use – was dedicated to my wife who helped with the research. This is a normal practice in the field of science called taxonomy, to dedicate a scientific name after someone.

What about the size? Wasn’t it already the smallest? Because the species was confused, scientifically, the size was also confused. As it turns out, perhaps by chance, the new species defined on Barbados is even smaller than the one it was confused with previously, on Martinique.

Now, Barbados has a unique species, the Barbados Threadsnake, and one that is quite special because it is the smallest, unless someone finds a large specimen of it, or a smaller species elsewhere. It should be studied and protected.

In THE NATION article, Damon Corrie is quoted as saying that he showed me where to find the Threadsnake. That is not exactly true. He accompanied us on one day but there were no snakes at his places. The snakes came from a place that I found in the old literature, although he was present when one was collected and we enjoyed his company.

Finally, I must point out that there is a second very small snake on Barbados that is easy to confuse with the real Barbados Threadsnake. It is called the Flowerpot Blindsnake and is thin and black; it was introduced from Indonesia and is common in gardens and around houses (Bridgetown, and so on).

Most sightings of the “threadsnake” are probably of this different species.

– BLAIR HEDGES

State College, Pennsylvania.

Source – Nation News

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2 Responses to Snake Expert Extending Peace Hand To Barbadians

  1. youcouldbelievethis says:

    LOL, I remember this story…I wrote it for radio news and forgot to post it on my blog. I’m glad he named it the Barbados Threadsnake though. I wonder why UWI never did anything before this scientist…it maybe we don’t have scientists in this field…we need to control our intellectual property, culture and environment.

  2. damoncorrie says:

    Now I know that Professor Blair Hedges is a liar.
    I am now reading this for the first time, and I am surprised that Blair cannot even admit that I found one live specimen of what we thought was Leptotyphlops bilineata for him under a rock behind Grantley Adams Secondary School, I remember him running over with his wife after I lifted the stone and saw it coiled and making no attempt to escape – and I shouted for them (they were about 20 feet away) “Hey I got one”, Blair picked it up (not me – as I did not know if they wanted to photograph it in its natural state first) and he and his wife hi-fived each other.
    I distinctly recall him picking it up and turning it to the sunlight to show me the 2 iridescent lines visible on its sides and saying “See the two lines – this is why it is called Leptotyphlops bilineata”; he went on to remind me that the one I had in my pet shop was a Flower-pot thread snake which had no lines down the side – which I agreed was true.
    Furthermore HE had the old literature about the alleged location of Leptotyphlops bilineata being found in St. John – I took him to the place the book mentioned and we found none THERE. I then took him behind Grantley Adams Secondary because a customer of mine called Otis lives nearby and told me they were in that area, thankfully I have a Bajan witness to what I describe – Otis happened to pass by us shortly after I found the snake while he was walking his Rottweiler dog and we chatted briefly, so feel free to contact me and I can give you Otis’s number so you can verify what I just related.
    The only thing Blair wanted me to help them look for which we did not find that day was the Barbados Leaf Toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus pulcher) – HIS ‘Old information’ said to check Ragged Point Lighthouse – which we did (Blair, Carla & Myself) but found only Hemidactylus mabouia and Gymnopthalmus underwoodi.

    I already accepted that he was the first person to scientifically describe it, but he cannot bring himself to even admit that I found the snake he later examined! I wonder what poor trusting local fools in other Caribbean islands found the other creatures he credits himself with ‘discovering’ while making sure tro preserve the ‘great scientist/discoverer’ image he is perpetuating about himself through his lies and fabrications.

    Lesson for Caribbean people – when any Academic from North America or Europe comes to you for help, charge high & document everything with your own camcorder. All the indigenous people I have met through my OAS and UN work have had the same experience, foreign academics paying them cheaply to find specimens, then the next thing they hear is that ‘Dr’ or ‘Professor’ so & so ‘Discovered’ this and that – here and there, never any mention of the locals who actually found the creatures.

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