Location: There are numerous small
but interesting islands located off the Atlantic coast of Brazil.
The tiny island of Queimada Grande has been isolated
from the mainland of S.America for upwards of 100,000 years. Across
rough seas, it is a difficult and dangerous place to visit, not
just because of the ocean, but because it is home to probably the
most venomous snake in S.America, up to 5,000 of them! The golden
lancehead is endemic to Queimada Grande and because there are no
mammals on the island, it is forced to feed on birds. For reasons
that will become apparent in the film, this means it must possess
a more toxic venom than its mainland mammal-eating relatives, between
3x and 5x more toxic. Mark links up with the Brazilian team studying
the golden lanchead, led by Prof Marcio Martins from Sao Paulo University
and Francisco Luis Franco from the world famous Butantan Institute
in Sao Paulo and they also visit the nearby island of Alcatrazes
which is inhabited by giant tarantula spiders, huge tegu lizards
and an undescribed species of pitviper. Marcio also has a radio-tracking
project to study the behaviour of caiçacas, a semi-aquatic
pitviper, and Mark joins him to track down his study animals.
A close view of the head of the Golden
lancehead (Bothrops insularis), note the forward-facing heat-sensitive
||Marbled tropical bullfrog
||Clay robber frog
||Striped savanna bullfrog
||(unidentified smooth horned frog)
||Cosmopolitan house gecko
||Sao Paulo keeled teiid
|Tupinambis sp. nov.
||VIPERS & PITVIPERS
Location: We hunted insular lanceheads on Ilha Queimade Grande and
Ilha de Alcatrazes, and also travelled inland to radio-track swamp
lanceheads near Itirapina.
Approaching Ilha Queimada Grande by helicopter, the pitviper-infested
forest and deserted lighthouse are clearly visible.
Approaching Ilha Alcatrazes by sea, we landed by the big rock and
O'Shea set off to its right wearing a head-camera.
A close view of an Alcatrazes lancehead (Bothrops sp.nov.), O'Shea
found this specimen after only 5 minutes of searching !