An undocumented species of giant anaconda has been discovered by a team of scientists on location with a film crew in the remote Amazon.

University of Queensland Professor Brian Fry led a team that captured and studied several specimens of the newly named northern green anaconda. (Eunectes akaima)Baihuaeri is located in the Bameno region of the Waorani Territory in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

“Our team received a rare invitation from the Wavarani people to explore the area and take samples from the anaconda population, the largest known in existence,” Professor Fry said.

“Indigenous hunters took us on a 10-day expedition into the forest in search of these snakes, which they consider sacred.

“We paddled the canoe down the river system and were lucky enough to find several anacondas hiding in the shallows waiting for prey.

“The size of these magnificent creatures was incredible — one female anaconda we encountered was 6.3 meters long.

“Other anacondas in the area have been reported by the Wawarani people to be over 7.5 meters long and weighing around 500 kilograms.”

Professor Fry said the northern green anaconda species diverged from the southern green anaconda about 10 million years ago and differed genetically by 5.5 per cent.

“That’s pretty significant — to put it in perspective, humans are only 2 percent different from chimpanzees,” he said.

“This discovery is the highlight of my career.”

The new anaconda species was found while filming with National Geographic for their upcoming Disney+ series. Pole to Pole with Will Smithon which Professor Fry, a National Geographic Explorer, was the expedition’s scientific leader.

“Our journey into the heart of the Amazon, facilitated by the invitation of the Wawrani Chief Pantibaihua, was a true cultural endeavor,” he said.

“The importance of our Waorani colleagues is recognized as co-authors on the paper.”

The scientists also compared the green anaconda’s genetics to samples collected by world-renowned anaconda expert Dr. Jesus Rivas of New Mexico Highlands University and used them as an indicator species for ecosystem health.

Professor Fry said the Amazon was facing serious environmental threats.

“Agricultural expansion has resulted in 20-31 percent habitat loss in the Amazon basin, which could affect 40 percent of its forests by 2050,” he said.

“Another growing problem is habitat degradation from land fragmentation, led by heavy metal pollution from industrial agriculture and oil extraction activities.

“Forest fires, drought and climate change are also significant threats.

“These rare anacondas, and other species that share this remote ecosystem, face significant challenges.”

Professor Fry said his next research project will focus on heavy metal pollution in the Amazon.

“It’s not just these giant snakes that are facing environmental threats, but almost all the organisms in the region,” he said.

“The discovery of a new species of anaconda is exciting, but highlights the urgent need to do more research on these endangered species and ecosystems.

“In particular, research is needed on how petrochemicals from oil spills are affecting the fertility and reproductive biology of these rare snakes and keystone species in the Amazon.”

Published in research paper. MDPI Diversity.