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Belgian-born but with roots in Congo, Prof. Philippe Kok is making waves at the University of Łódź. Recently, he unveiled a novel snake species, Paikwaophis kruki, dedicated to Prof. Andrzej Kruk, Dean of the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection. This diminutive serpent was found during a National Geographic expedition in the pristine cloud-hung forests of western Guyana.
Named after its discoverer, Paikwaophis kruki mesmerizes with its striking red eyes and subterranean lifestyle. At just 180 mm upon discovery, this non-venomous snake inhabits the untouched realm between sandstone plateaus. Its enigmatic behavior and distinct morphology quickly placed it as a previously undescribed member of the Dipsadidae family, which encompasses over 800 species.
Cryptic Existence Underground
Paikwaophis kruki’s subterranean habits offer an explanation for its elusiveness. A confirmed lizard hunter, its diet further unveils its secrets. This newfound species represents another gem in Prof. Kok’s portfolio, as he continues to explore the enigmatic tabletop mountains of Pantepui, shedding light on the hidden biodiversity of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Lost World.”
Prof. Philippe Kok’s expertise in herpetology, field biology, and evolutionary ecology shines through. He has described 58 new amphibian and reptile taxa, including the snail Plekocheilus philippei. His current research delves into population genomics, dynamics, and ecology of these creatures, contributing significantly to the understanding of the Guiana Shield’s biodiversity.