NMHU professor couple discover anaconda species

New Mexico Highlands professor couple discovers anaconda species

Why not anacondas? A couple, who both work as professors at New Mexico Highlands University, asked that exact question and it led them to a big discovery.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — To some people, anacondas may be a thing of nightmares. To others, it’s just a big snake they probably won’t ever come in contact with.

For husband and wife Jesus and Sarah Corey Rivas, who teach biology at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, it’s their lives.

“Since I do genetics, my interest is ‘What are their secrets?’, ‘What are they doing that we can’t see?'” Sarah Corey Rivas said.

They’ve dedicated many years to research on anaconda.

“Someone asked me, ‘Why anacondas?’ and I said, ‘Why not?'” Jesus Rivas said.

Recently, the husband-wife duo worked with researchers from all over the world to collect anaconda samples. That led to the discovery that the green anaconda is actually two genetically diverse species — the northern green anaconda and the southern green anaconda.

“The northern green anaconda is the new species that we’ve named. The scientific name is Eunectes akayima which is an indigenous name from Venezuela,” Sarah Corey said.

It translates to “great snake.” They say this research is a win for New Mexico.

“This was a New Mexican discovery done by Hispanic professors teaching in a Hispanic Serving Institution,” Jesus said.

The discovery is also leading to conservation efforts to further protect the massive snake. The Rivas hope more students get involved in their research.