Watch the world’s most elusive boa snake out of a Brazilian forest

One of the world’s most elusive snakes has resurfaced after a 64-year “manhunt” by scientists in Brazil. 1953 was the last time any researcher saw a Cropan’s boa (Corallus cropanii) alive. Since then, the snake—thought to be the rarest boid in the world—has been recorded by scientists just five times. But the boa, which lives in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest south of São Paulo, was always dead, usually killed by locals who don’t take chances with snakes. Now, researchers are getting a second chance to study the species, thanks to a 1.7-meter-long female captured by a group of rural workers in January. The snake—which is not venomous—has a yellowish belly, a back covered in black diamond patterns, and deep sensory pits lining the edge of its lips. It weighs 1.5 kilograms and most likely preys on small mammals and birds. The recently-captured boa is lucky: One of its captors was about to hack it to death, when the other two recalled “wanted signs” that had been posted by researchers from the University of São Paulo’s Museum of Zoology and the Butantan Institute, who had launched an environmental education program in the community about the snakes. Now that herpetologists have their boa, which has never been observed in the wild, they plan to release it into the forest with a radio transmitter. The species was thought to live mostly on land, but it may actually live in the canopy, high above the forest floor. Scientists put it on several different trees, and it climbed to the tops with great dexterity—which may help explain why it’s so rarely seen.