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Target Species: Golden lancehead Bothrops insularis, Alcatrazes lancehead Bothrops sp.nov.& Caiçaca, Bothrops moojeni
Location: Ilha Queimada Grande, Ilha Alcatrazes & Itirapina, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Director: Martin Belderson

Location: There are numerous small but interesting islands located off the Atlantic coast of Brazil.

Mission Statement:

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 pits.

Species recorded during 'Lost Worlds'

Species Common Name
Bufo crucifer Cross-marked toad
Phrynohyas venulosa Poison-skinned treefrog
Adenomera marmorata Marbled tropical bullfrog
Eleutherodactylus binotatus Clay robber frog
Leptodactylus fuscus Striped savanna bullfrog
Leptodactylus labyrinthicus Labyrinth bullfrog
Leptodactylus ocellatus Criolla bullfrog
Proceratophorus sp. (unidentified smooth horned frog)
Hemidactylus mabouia Cosmopolitan house gecko
Mabuya macrorhyncha Large-snouted mabouya
Kentropyx pauloensis Sao Paulo keeled teiid
Tupinambis merianae Teiu
Tupinambis sp. nov. Alcatrazes tegu
Thamnodynastes stigilis False jararaca
Bothrops insularis Golden lancehead
Bothrops moojeni Brazilian lancehead
Bothrops sp.nov. Alcatrazes lancehead


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.



Mark O'Shea and Brazilian herpetologists Francisco Luis Franco (cen.) and Marcio Martins (r.) examine a Golden lancehead.



O'Shea finds Golden lanceheads on the ground and in the trees. This one required a climb.




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 !



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