Friday, 18 September 2015

Yet another deadly snake species discovered in Australia

Scientists describe the highly camouflaged Kimberley death adder, native to Western Australia, as one of the world’s most venomous snakes

Wednesday 16 September 2015 06.54 BSTLast modified on Thursday 17 September 201502.12 BST

Ophidiophobics should fret not, but Australia has a new species of snake. Scientists have identified a new type of death adder in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Named the Kimberley death adder, or Acanthophis cryptamydros, the snake is about 50cm long and has a diamond-shaped head.

Scientists from Australia and the UK discovered the snake is different from the death adders found around Darwin in the Northern Territory. Previously it was thought the same species extended to the Kimberley, but an examination of 20 snakes found in the WA region has its very own death adder.

The death adder family is, true to their moniker, considered to be among the most venomous snakes in the world. Before antivenom was available, around half of the people bitten by death adders suffered paralysis and death.

Death adders are now far more at risk from humans, however, with numbers falling due to habitat destruction and the introduction of feral animals such as cats and foxes.

The Kimberley death adder has a distinctive scale formation on its head. Like other death adders, it is a “sit and wait” predator, choosing to lie in wait in order to strike its prey, most commonly birds, lizards and small animals.

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